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PRINCESSES LADIES AND 
SALONNIERES 

OF THE REIGN OF LOUIS XV 


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U-oloqiu ^ " 




Pri*l »f Cfc»Tw/~- “* ^ 




PRINCESSES LADIES 
^ SALONNifeRES 

OF THE REIGN OF LOUIS XV 


BY 

THERESE LOUIS LATOUR 


OfEcier d’Acaddmie, Membre de la Societd Acadimique d’Histoire 
Internationale, Grand Pnxdu Concours litt6raire de Pro Arte, 1923, 
Author of Princesses, Ladies, and Adventuresses of the Reign of Louts XIV 


LONDON 

KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO , LTD 
BROADWAY HOUSE 68-74 CARTER LANE, E C. 



TransUttd fnm tb* Frenth hy 

TVY E. CLEGG 


rtrrn* uio uM ti> qsxat nnAi* n mMxr nerwnj^ 
!>, p i TOMWi tM rrmnt KXjj^nAaM*t> nrvr 



DEDICATION 


I DEDICATE this book to that perfect fnend, my 
husband, so prematurely snatched from my 
affections, and so sorely missed. But for him this 
work and its predecessor would never have 
existed 

As m the past, I have sought, as he loved me to 
do, to re-endow my heroines with hfe, with their 
charactenstic traits, their emotions and passions, 
and to re-create their environment 
Almost all the essays m this volume were fimshed 
before he died, some of them had even been revised 
on his advice Hence it is our joint work, and its 
pubhcation affords me not only the consolation 
of keeping my promise to him, but also of bnnging 
back to life something of his beautiful mind. 

August igth, 1927 

Anmversary of my Husband's birthday 

Th. L. Latour 




CONTENTS 


Preface — By M. L6on Frapi6 .... 

Marie Leczinska, Queen of France 

Three Ladies at Supper The Comtesse De Tou- 
louse, Mademoiselle De Charolais, Madame 
De Mailly 

The Duchesse De ChAteauroux .... 

Madame Geoffrin 

Adrienne Lecouvreur ... 

Madame D’Epinay ..... 

El^onore de Jean de Manville Comtesse De 
Sabran . ...... 

The Marquise De Pompadour .... 

Mademoiselle De Lespinasse .... 

A Mistress of Mirabeau* Marie-Th^r^se Sophie 
Richard de Ruffey, Marquise de Monnier, 
CALLED Sophie de Monnier . 

The Daughters of Louis XV Madame Infante, 
Madame Henriette, Madame Adelaide, Madame 
V icToiRE, Madame Sophie, Tn^RfesE-FfiLiciTi:, 
Madame Louise . . . 

The Private Life of Marie- Antoinette, Dauphine 
AND Queen of France ..... 

Bibliography . ' . 


PAGE 

XI 

I 

23 

43 

61 

78 

97 

115 

143 

178 

198 


216 

262 

281 


VllN 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 


I Marie, Princess of Poland, Queen of 
France AND Navarre From August 1725- 
June 1768 bom 1703 . . Frontispiece 

Print by Chereau from the portrait by C. Vanloo 

II Marie Anne de Bourbon, called Made- 
moiselle DE Clermont, surmtendante 
of Queen Mane Leczinska’s Household . 8 

Print after Nattier’s portrait 

III Cardinal DE Fleury : 1653-1743 . , 14 

Print by P Brevet after the portrait painted by Hy!Kin(ke 
Rtgaud, chevalier de Pordre de St Michel 

H'’ Louise Anne de Bourbon, Princess of the 
Blood, called Mademoiselle de Charolais : 
bom June 1695 , died 1758 ... 30 

Prom the portrait by Boucher of Mademoi'elle de Charvla'.t « a 
Franciscan rretnh 

V Julie, Comtesse de Mailly, eldest dau;^ter of 
the 3 lARguis and Z^Iap^juise de Nesle. 
Mistress of Louis the XVth : 1732-1742. 

Bom 1710 ; died 1751 . . . . 3^ 

Source of P-is pnrt unPnoser 

"VH Marie Ai^'ne de ZvIailly de Zsesle, 

BP. ChAteauroue- Mistress of Loris the 
XVth: 1742-1744- Bom 1717; died 

December 1744 

PrirJt after Ucile^i't pidare 


3Iah(5tjxse DE FLA'/AOOUPT, 70PPJP DA^---.^F 
OF THE Yll.P'/PiZ AND 3rAE.i— =- --- 

IvESLE- Born 1716 , , . - 

Priri after ItaPUr't le/rtrei 


^*III ’Iarie-Ti I^FESE HODET/ 

Fra-n^oxs Geoffeln 

died Ootorxr' T 777 


:e 


Prid efW i;at»r'i yedrcd cf M Ms-' 

ENNE LeCOU'/REO'R- _A>om F. 

X'-Tirdo^'^p-toro' 

7 E 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 


X 


Hauricb ot SAxomr Bom 1696 died 1750 


Prht hf J O wm ^ 04 hy BytetMO* 

Utmi ds 7fdr4 dt Si. JLfkW 


XI jEA2fWE AirromKTTB Poisaow whe of 
M oKsnnm Lsmoruako d'Exiouo, 
MABQtnsB DE PoMPX3X)tni- Bom 1731 
died 1764 

PrimI tf J L. Amdim tfitr C«f Vmlx'i f4fin0 

XU Ethekhe pRAWfOia dug de CaorextrL, great 
Statesman 1719-1785 I ns p i red the Family 
Compact lytSi 

PrW ky EHmmd Fmmd ^ Ltmk Ukid VmUdt 

xm Marie db Vicsy Chajcfrohi> Masquhe du 
Dkptawo 1697 1780 

PHM tflfr C>fHifr.r» fmfymd 

XIV Gabriel HokorA BiQinm dx Mibabeao 
M arch i749<April 1791 The gieatset orator 
of the French Revolntkm 

XV Mabsuoiselle AbbiaIdb, 6th child of King 

Lcmis the XVth, and Qaecn Marie 
Lecztnaka March 175a Fehrrury 1800 

XVI Marie A n r otw ETT B 2nd November i755-i6th 

October 1795 Daaphlne loth Hay 1770- 
i6th Blay 1774 Qoeon of France i6th May 
1774 igm August 1790 
^rM h Cw*U 


nos 

88 

144 

170 

184 

198 

218 

26a 


z 



PREFACE 


I would recommend all who are oppressed by their own 
cares, disquieted by the outlook of to-day and saddened by 
life’s disappointments, to read Princesses, Ladies and 
Salonni^res of the Reign of Louis XV 

I do so with confidence, because, by the magic of this 
vividly imaginative work, the reader will he transposed 
far from the exigencies of the present, to live again in a 
society throbbing with interest. 

The simple sincerity of the style, and above all the 
emotional skill which makes the scenes and people of a 
vanished era live once more, will carry the reader with 
them until he shares that stirring life of the eighteenth 
century, so vibrant, so full of ideas, new thoughts, and 
follies. The chapters are strictly historical, but instead 
of being pedantic and formal they seem like stories written 
for the entertainment and day-dreaming of their readers 

Who but a woman could evoke these notable feminine 
personalities, and what woman was better qualified to make 
a complete success of the task than Thirdse Latour^ Pro- 
found knowledge and psychological insight were not 
enough It needed vision, the gift of restoring the dead 
to life and clothing them anew in flesh and blood It 
needed the power to reveal what these heroines of the past 
_ confessed to the world and what they hid in their hearts 
It needed a woman, who, trembling, could put herself in 
their places, show their real faces and wear, too, their 
masks 


XI 



PREFACE 


Thsst femintne personaltiw good and had, tnih aU 
i)mr vaned gtfis, foreshadowed tn the e\ghiunih century 
the coming of the modem woman They foretold the age 
of equality and the evolution which manifests itself tn every 
amlttaiion in favour of a fairer distribution of the rights 
and duties of the sexes 

And I in drawing the attention of the public to the 
present work ampTOudtohow,inthesPint of comradeship 
before ike equality of femxmne talent 

LiON FRAPIE 



MARIE LECZINSKA 

QUEEN OF FRANCE 


At the beginning of the year 1719 Phihppe d’Orl^ans, 
Regent of France, " seized with pity for Stanislas 
Leczinska who, by the bold and brilliant audacity of 
the Swedish King, Charles XII, had been made for a 
short time King of Poland, allowed this dethroned and 
impovenshed monarch to settle down with his family 
in the country-town of Wissembourg, situated on the 
Alsatian frontier Such permission was not without 
danger to the person who granted it The new Rmg 
of Poland, Augustus, Elector of Saxony, who was 
both powerful and spiteful, .visited the unfortunate 
Stanislas with his resentment Thus, to succour 
“ the poor hare cowenng at the bottom of the furrow 
as the newspapers of the time expressed it, was to run 
the nsk of incurnng Augustus IPs anger However, 
no harm befell the Regent for having shown compassion, 
while on their side, Stanislas and his family expenenced 
once more the intense ]oy of having a home of their 
own 

But the family were m very straitened circumstances 
at Wissembourg They lived m the smallest of houses 
and necessaries were often lackmg in their humble abode 
A few faithful followers, whom they could neither pay 
nor feed, served as an apology for a guard of honour 
The jewels of the former Queen of Poland, Catherme 
Alapmska, were held as secunty by a moneylender , 

I 



JIARIE LECZINSICA 


but even this last resource threatened rapidly to come 
to an end no matter how economical the dethroned 
Queen might be 

Catherine did not bear this poverty without bitter- 
ness She was by nature hard and violent and the 
contrast between the past and present made her imjust 
and cruel to her husband The situation was still 
further aggravated by Stanislas Leczinska s old mother 
Gloomy and morose she never ceased to deplore the 
departed glory of her son and jomed with her daughter- 
in law in reproaching the dethroned Igng for the loss 
of his crown 

But this family soured by misfortune, counted 
among its members two who had preserved mtact the 
amiable qualities with which the gods had endowed 
them These were father and daughter 

Mane, the daughter scarcely sixteen when the 
Lecrinskas settled in Wissembonrg possessed the gift 
of suffermg m silence and of never wearying others with 
her troubles Misfortune developed m her a profound 
and intense piety and gave ‘to her youthful mind the 
maturity of a woman who no longer demands happi- 
ness The sole joys which she anticipated from life 
were to have long conversations with her father of 
whom she was passionately fond to linger in church 
and to look after the poor people m the village. 
Stanislas had educated his daughter himself This 
enthusiastic and unagmative scholar essayed to make 
her his second self But Marie had inherited nothing 
of her fathers wild unagmation Rational both by 
nature and necessity she was profoimdly gneved m 
spite of her mtense filial admiration by the opposite 
extremes mto which her fathers temperament threw 

t 



RIARIE LECZINSKA 


lum. Lively and unstable as the majonty of the Poles, 
Stanislas, ever ambitious and romantic, would pass from 
an attack of heartrending despair to hours of radiant 
happiness He dreamed once more of the throne for 
liimself and his famil}'’, and even reached the conviction 
that glory and happiness would revisit them through 
the marriage of his daughter, however timorous and 
silently resigned she might be 

But this behef, which seemed so like a fair}’’ tale, was 
to be realized 

At the Court of France schemes were on foot to marry 
the ^rnung King The project was not likelj’- to present 
an}^ difficult}^ for Louis, the youth, was as attractive 
as lus kingdom was delightful and powerful As a baby 
he had been dehcate, but his ardent pursuit of the chase 
had made him strong and muscular. He had an 
elegant figure ; his handsome Bourbon face was softened 
by a beautiful pair of kind, grey eyes which gave it 
languour and poetry His gentle, dreamy glance was 
warm \vith sympathy for all on whom he looked , a 
natural grace set off his person, and the fame of his 
faultless courtesy, especially to women, had already 
passed beyond the French frontiers Nevertheless, to 
find him just exactly the nght %vife was no easy matter 

The difficulty arose out of the slavish love which the 
Due de Bourbon, Chief Minister of that day, had vowed 
to his haughty imstress, Madame de Pne, and the 
boundless and cautious ambition of the energetic 
favourite It was only m the hope of becoming and 
remaming all-powerful at the Court of France that 
Madame de Pne had accepted this one-eyed, ugly, 
narrow-mmded lover She intended that her pnde 
and cupidity should regam all that she had sacrificed 

3 



MARIE LECZmSKA 


in allowing the Due de Bouihon to make love to her 
But in order to attain her desire for supreme and 
lasting power it was essential that the Kmg should 
be married to a queen who would not take umbrage 
at Madame de Pne So it was mdispensable that this 
future queen should be not only easy to manage but 
also without parents powerful enoughto give her s upport 
without alhes and without any other fnends at the 
Court but the favourite and her lover Such a queen 
would be quite ready to kiss the hand which had placed 
her on the throne of Franco and to efface herself before 
the exactions of her patroness 

It was however Impossible to push Loins mto a 
mSzaUuince He could only marry a princess But^ 
where to find this pnneess without fortune without the 
support of any throne without relations at the Court 
of France who would be quite wilhng to be the favounte s 
grateful prot^gte and to take no other place beside her 
husbands throne excepting only what one chose to 
allow her ? 

To these difficulties was added another at least as 
important m the eyes of Madame de Pne. It was 
essential that the princess whose hand was to be asked 
m mamage should be of an age to give heirs to the crown 
very qmckly The mistress of a Bourbon would take 
good care that nothing was neglected to keep the 
d Orleans at a distance from the throne. Her chief 
grievance against the little seven years-old Spanish 
Infanta affianced to Louis XV and being brought up 
at that very time at Versailles had been that for more 
than eight years the throne would be at the mercy of 
the King's health by reason of the extreme youth of 
his betrothed. 


4 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


In spite of so many obstacles to her project, Madame ' 
de Pne had no doubt of its ultimate success She caused 
inquiries to be made throughout Europe by her agents 
so that she might be m possession of complete hsts of 
all the mamageable pnncesses More than one 
hundred names figured m these hsts, and among them 
were Anne of England, Elizabeth of Russia, Mademoiselle 
de Vermandois, own sister of the Due de Bourbon, and 
numerous young and attractive princesses But none 

5 

of these names satisfied Madame de Pne So she 
, contmued her mquines until, among her personal fnends, 
she heard of a moneyless pnneess, the daughter of a 
deposed kmg, simply brought up, tractable, unpre- 
tentious, unambitious, completely ignorant of Court 
life and twenty-two years old 
This pnneess who answered so perfectly to Madame 
de Pne’s wishes was no other than Mane Leezmska 
The discovery advanced matters considerably But 
there still remained the most difficult half of the 
obstacles to overcome France had to be mduced 
to accept Loms XV’s mamage to Mane Leezmska 
This mamage meant a breach with Spam, who would 
be humihated by the return of her Infanta , a breach 
with Russia, whose Pnneess Elizabeth loved and 
wanted Loms , and the dissatisfaction of the country, 
which gamed 'from this mamage neither glory nor 
honour, nches nor aUiances Madame de Pne saw all 
this, but was dating enough to face the situation m order 
to satisfy her own ambition Her firm will and clear 
nund served her so well that the redoubtable Marqmse 
knew no misgivings, no momentary fear or weakness 
before reaching her goal 

She hastened at the very outset to have as flattermg 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


a portrait as possible of Mane Lecaanska executed by 
tbe fashionable painter Gobert The artist had the 
excellent idea prompted perhaps by Madame de Pne 
of copying the pose and details of a portrait of the 
Duchesse de Bourgoyne of ^^duch among the vanous 
portraits of his mother Louis seemed particularly fond 
Did this skill contnbute to chann the young Kmg when 
he was shown the portrait of his fianc^ bv Gobert ? 
Perhaps It is certam that he was very much pleased 
with the portrait and that when looking at it he uttered 
for the first time a phrase which he often repeated 
during the first three years of his mamage She is 
the loveliest of all 

At the same time that Madame de Pne \7as endeavour- 
ing to exate Lems XV s affections for Mane Lerymska 
she persuaded the Due de Bourbon to call a private 
council for the purpose of cOnsidenng the subject of the 
Kings marriage The Chief Minister acting under 
Madame de Pne s instructions took care to summon 
to this council only his own fnends with one smgle 
exceptiotL This unavoidable exception was Cardmal 
de Fleury Archbishop of Fr<jus former tutor to the 
King and all powerful m matters which concerned tbe 
young monarch s min d and conduct as well as at Court 
and in the Government Fleury outwardly retmng 
discreet and humble ^vlth his soft, weak voice, his spare 
gestures his lengthy orisons his affectation of contempt 
for grandeur and glory was the real power at Court 
and mtended to be so Capable of making and u nm aking 
imnlstnes for a long time he refused to accept a title 
which might have fri^tened the timid Louis But he 
never allowed bis pupil to take any mitlative One of 
his chief preoccupatlcms bad been to reduce the Prince 
6 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


with whose education he was entrusted, to a state of 
perpetual childhood, so that he might dominate him the 
better. It was for this re^on that he had unobtrusively 
" kept him out of pubhc affairs and sought to 
substitute for mental activity the need for physical 
exercise which should serve as a cloak f or Loms’ mdolence 
How could such a man be left out, especially when the 
marriage of his pupil, the King, was m question ? 
Fleury shared the general opimon at this pnvate council 
He declared that his sohcitude for the welfare of the 
Bang's soul, as well as his very ardent desire to see 
without loss of time heirs to the throne, made him 
rejoice over the project of a mamage whereby the Bang 
would gam a real wife immediately and not merely a child 
So the Marquise saw success m sight To render it 
more efiectual she repaired on a secret mission to Mane 
Leczmska m order to use her wiles to stir up the Prmcess 
against Fleury Madame de Pne sought by this 
manoeuvre to weaken, to her own advantage m the 
future, the power of the tutor whose duphcity and 
ambition she divined Mane, ignorant of Court 
mtngues, did not see through the favounte’s machina- 
tions She beheved all the bad which Madame de Pne 

! 

told her about the Cardmal, and felt very dismchned to 
like him Thus, her smcenty and her innocence 
predisposed her to make an enemy at the Court of France 
of the person who, next to the Kmg, would have the 
most influence on her happmess And she had no 
fnend to warn her of the danger of her mistake At 
Versailles they ywere already laughmg at her name which 
but yesterday was unknoW Voltaire produced some 
very witty and comic effects from the harsh syllables of 
this name without anyone thinking that it might cause 

7 



MARIE LECZINSKA 

pain to the girl who, with a heart full of gratitude was 
shortly to be made Queen of France She was sp 
pleased at having been chosen this bnde of the morrow, 
that she no longer felt the pain which humiliationa 
inflict For she had been forced to confess to one of 
Loms XV 8 messengers sent to ask her for a pair of old 
shppers to serve as a pattern for those which the Xmg 
wished to mclude m his wedding presents to her that 
she only possessed the shoes she was wearing I The 
messenger persisted and after a lengthy hunt through 
all her things they came across the only pair of ball 
shppers which Mane Leczmska had ever worn It was 
these old ball shppers that tl^ messenger took to the 
Parisian boot maker as a pattern ! 

Nevertheless Louis XV s courtiers and counsellors 
were anjaous that the mamage should be celebrated 
with all pomp and arcunistance while the dethroned 
long Stanislas radiantly happy, wished everything for 
the great day to be on a magnificent scale. By command 
of Louis XV the same mamage settlements were made 
m Mane Lecnnska s case as had been promised m that 
of the Spanish Infanta. Thus she received fi^ty 
thousand cro w ns for rmgs and jewellery Two hundred 
and fifty thousand hvrcs on her umon with the King 
and the further guarantee of an annual allowance of 
twenty thousand crowns should she be left a widow 
All these provisions made the mamage by proxy was 
fixed for the 15th of August 1725 Mane had asked 
as a special favour that the solemn event which was to 
transform her life and toake her a poor and obscure 
pnncess the wife of his most Christian and powerful 
Majestj Louis XV might bo placed under the patron 
ago of Our Lady whoso Feast of the Assumption it \vas 
8 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


It was for this reason that this romantic, and yet m 
many respects disqmetmg, marriage took place on the 
15th of August, in Strasbourg Cathedral. The organ 
pealed forth strams of triumphant music The ex- 
Kmg Stamslas seemed to become once more the bnihant 
and youthful seigneur who had sat on the throne at 
Warsaw The Pohsh guard of honour were attired m 
the nchest umforms whose new and bnUiant ornaments 
ghttered and shone m the sun ; happmess, hope and 
confidence were reflected all around The Prmcess 
alone coUapsed on the Royal pne-dieu which had been 
placed for her m the centre of the cathedral, andleanmg 
her head agamst the arm of her chair, wept long and 
audibly Were they tears of joy that she shed ? Or 
had, perhaps, this modest Pohsh prmcess a presentiment 
that it was much easier to reign at Wissembourg than at 
Versailles ? Did she already feel that virtues and good 
Intentions were not enough to keep Loms' affections for 
any length of time ? 

The ceremony at Strasbourg was to be ratified on the 
5th of September m the chapel at the Castle of Fontame- 
bleau On that day Loms XV himself would ofier his 
hand to his Queen, and was already awaiting the 
moment with impatience He had despatched 
Mademoiselle de Clermont, the Chief Minister’s sister, 
to meet and escort the Queen. Mademoiselle de 
Clermont departed on this important and pleasant 
mission in a sumptuous eqmpage Twelve royal coaches, 
each one drawn by eight horses, led the procession ; 
then followed twelve special coaches , behmd these 
twenty-four magnificent carnages came fifty which 
were more ordmary The smte which accompamed 
Mademoiselle de Clermont was worthy of the coaches 

9 



MARIE LECZINSKA 

which escorted her She had besides seven ladies m 
waiting two maids-of honoor and numerous equemes 
and pages And lastly, as a compliment to Mane 
Lecamka she had brought all the gold plate which 
Lems possessed 

But notwithstanding this display of luxury and these 
costlv attenbons. Mane Leoinska s amval m France 
was very unlike that of the queens who had preceded 
her There were no official demonstrabons in her 
honour no diplomabc recepbons not even a triumphal 
entrv into the capital of her adopbon After all Mane 
Leezmska was only the poor prot^^ of a favonnte a 
prot4g4© whom the King certainly wanted to marry 
^but not to associate with the gloiy of his throne. France 
regarded her as a probable cause of wars the nobility 
as an intruder the ministers as a compheafaon m public 
affairs without advantages the Court had an idea 
that she would be awkward and shy The King alone 
on seeing her repeated the remark which he had made 
when he first beheld her portrait She is the lovehest 
of all! 

Was Mane Leennska really lovely ? And was her 
appearance going to help her to command respect at 
the French Court ? In the beginning Louis certainly 
compared her with Blanche de Castillo the beautiful 
queen whoso praises were song so gracefully by Thibault 
de Champagne but as a matter of fact Mane Lecrinska 
resembled Blanche de Castille m nothing but her extreme 
piety Devoid of any real attractions in spite of her 
height and beautiful figure there was nothing about her 
to arrest attenbou excepbng what people are pleased 
to rail la beauti du diable It was to her biilliaut 
complexion and the bloom of health on her cheeks that 
10 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


she owed her beauty She was, moreover, too sincere 
and too pious to be a coquette, and would have strongly 
reprobated any attempt on her part to improve her 
appearance with the object of making herself more 
attractive She had no idea of the art of inspiring 
love and thought that the strongest feehng which she 
could have for her husband was that of gratitude. 
Chaste to the point of ascetism, she hid rather than 
revealed her shy charms to the passionate husband, 
who asked for nothing more than to be allowed to 
admire and love her. Indeed, Loms, who was flattered 
at havmg a wife of twenty-two when he himself was 
under sixteen, was at that restless age when a wife 
could have exerted a great influence over him. But 
i\Iane did not discern that the love which she had 
inspired in the Kmg could only be transient ; that it 
was necessary to make a real conquest of' her Royal 
lover She responded with a dutiful resignation to 
the Bang’s passionate advances and was unable either 
to agitate, disturb, or satisfy the heart and mmd of 
this growing youth, half-man, half-child, whose 
indolent and undecided character could at that time 
have been so easily moulded by the wife whom he was 
flattered to own Mane failed to perceive that here was 
a splendid and umque opportumty to become influential, 
to make up for her mediocre birth and position and to 
become a real Queen of France The love which she 
inspired m Loms failed to engender either confidence 
or fondness She continued to mdulge m the grateful 
admiration which she had vowed to him and to stand m 
timid awe of the migh'^of one who in her eyes appeared 
so great These sentiments dommated her to such a 
degree that when she was m the King’s presence she 


ir 


MARIE LECZINSKA 


I 


winch escorted her She had besides seven ladies-^ 
waiting two maids-of honour and numerous equerr 
and pages And lastly as a compliment to Ma 
Lecnnska she had brought all the gold plate wh^ 
Louis possessed. 

But notwithstanding this display of luxury and th^ 
costly attentions Mane t^eczmska s amval m Frai 
was very unlike that of the queens who had precer 
her There were no official demonstrations in 
honour no diplomatic recepbons not even a tnmnp 
entry mto the capital of her adopbon After all M. 
Leczinska was only the poor prot^g^ of a favount 
prot4gfe whom the King certainly wanted to mr 
_Jjat not to associate with the glory of his throne. Fr 
regarded her as a probable cause of wars the nolr 
asanmtrader the ministers as a complication m pt 
affairs without advantages the Court had an^ 
that she would be awkward and shy The King r 
on seemg her repeated the remark which he had i? 
when he first beheld her portrait She is the love 
of aUl i 

Was Mane Leennska really lovefy ? And wa^ 
appearance going to help her to command respef 
the French Court ? In the beginning Louis cer\ 
compared her with Blanche do Castille the bo 
queen whose praises were sung so gracefully by Tl 
de Champagne but as a matter of fact Mane Lee 
resembled Blanche de Castille m nothing but her o 
piotv Devoid of any real attractions, in apitel 
height and beautiful figure there was nothing ab^ 
to arrest attention excepting what people ore 
to call la beauts du diable It was to her b^' 
complexion and the bloom of health on her < 

10 



lAIARIE LECZDv'SKA 


s]ie owed her beauty She was, moreover, tc-r szirTZc* 
and too pious to be a coquette, and would have srrmij 
reprobated any attempt on her part to J r ■ U ttV ^ FiCw 
appearance with the object of making heis£f mne 
attractive She had no idea of the art of inspfiirrr 
love and thought that the strongest feeling virch she 
could have for her husband was that of gr ah t.efe. 


Chaste to the point of ascetism, she hid rather rr-^ 
revealed her shy charms to the passionate hnshazrh 
who asked for nothing more than to be ailowaf ts 
admire and love her. Indeed, Louis, who was hatterel 
at having a ivife of twenty-two when he hinself was 
under sixteen, was at that restless age when a wifs 
could have exerted a great influence over hisx sft 
Mane did not discern that the love which she 
inspired in the King could only be transient - tha- h 
« necessary to make a real conquest "of h^r Roral 
love She responded with a dutiful resignation 'to 

to aeitate ^1'^' unable either 

IL ™ “d mind of 

gr ^vlng youth, half-man half-child r, 

■ndolent and undecided cbaracte; co^ J “hat t" 

e been so easily moulded by the wife wbn h 

flattered to oivn Mane failed to per^veThat t, 

a splendid and unique opportunity to F 

make up for her merocre tolla 

liccoine a real Queen of Prance The f 

or fondness She continued tf /'i 
•iilmiration which she had vowed to 

hmidaveofthemightofnn i, ^ stand in 

presen PA oi,- 


MARIE LECZINSKA 


lost all initiative and the power to converse mteUi 
gently The Marquise de la Fertd Imbault relates how 
one day dnnng a visit that he paid her, Mane Leczmska 
could suggest no better amusement for the King than 
that of killing flies on the window panes On another 
occasion when Loins impatient to spend the night with 
his Queen amved about eleven o clock m tbe evening 
Mane inflicted fairy-tales on hrm for three-quarters of 
an hour She loved to make her ladies read aloud these 
fantasbc stories which banished the fears to which she 
was a prey 

The Queen s maladroit behaviour was not long m 
doing her harm In spite of his love Louis soon became 
provoked by the virtue of a compamon who introduced 
more duty tban pleasure into their life He who In the 
begummg would not allow his Queen's beauty to be 
compared with that of any lady of the Court what 
soever so much more wonderful did Mane appear m his 
eyes was now ready to listen to Cardinal Fleury's 
biassed remarks against her The former tutor dreaded 
any other influence than his own over the King He 
did not wish anyone and least of all the Queen to gain 
dominion over the mmd of Inuis XV So when he 
saw how very much m love the young husband was 
Fleuiy waited for a favourable opportunity to destroy 
the intimacy between husband and wife. 

The fall of the Due de Bourbon s mmistiy gave the 
Cardinal his opportunity 

Mane Leczmska did not forget for a single instant 
that she owed her elevation to the French throne to 
Madame de Pne and the Due de Bourbon And how 
ever harshly and even contemptuously the haughty 
Marquise may frequentty have treated her and however 



MARIE LECZINSICA 


unjust at times may have been the Chief Minister, 
the young Queen never showed either of them anythmg 
but affectionate gratitude So the Duke and his 
mistress knew that m the daughter of Stanislas 
Leczmska the}'' had a docile instrument who might 
become useful m a time of crisis Tlus crisis, which 
neitlier of them had ever considered probable, occurred 
m June, 1726. 

Fleur}'^ had only thrust the Due de Bourbon mto 
the office of Chief Minister because he knew that he was 
incompetent, and he himself counted on governing m 
the name of the Duke But the meek, crafty Cardmal 
very qmckly perceived that the j\Iarqmse de Pne had a 
special policy of her own m all matters Her tnumph 
regarding the King’s marriage had made her more 
danng and graspmg than ever So the Archbishop of 
Fr4]us, instead of ha-ving to deal only with a submissive 
man such as the Due de Bourbon, had to use his 
influence in 1725 atid 1726 to combat the pretensions of 
the Marqmse The mistress even carried off two or 
three pohtical palms of victory over the head of the 
Cardinal That was going too far ' Fleury decided 
on the fall of the Due de Bourbon He had only to 
employ the all-powerful influence which he had over 
Louis to make him demand the Chief Minister’s resigna- 
tion Madame de Pne was indignant at the King’s 
step and rushed to the Queen to insist that she should 
intercede m favour of the Duke Marie, who was always 
filled with an awed admiration for her husband, implored 
Madame de Pne not to drag her into this affair But 
the Marqmse was inexorable So the Queen obeyed 
those whom she always looked upon as her only fnends 
and interceded on their behalf with a persistent 

13 



MARIE LECZINSKA 

clumsiness exasperated Loins At tins penod 

Lotus XTV s successor held exactly the same views as 
his grandfather with regard to feminine influence on 
pohtics He would not allow that any woman possessed 
the skill to meddle in pohtics Fleury supported this 
point of view If ever Your Majesty exclaimed the 
Cardmal one day to the ^ng should listen to women s 
advice m pubUc matters Your Majesty and the State 
wdl be lost irretnevably On that very same day 
Ixuis XV surrounded by his mbmate friends, repeated 
his former tutor's remarks addmg I rephed that if 
any woman dared to discuss pubhc affans with me I 
would at once have the door shut m her face 

It was after this that Mane Leamska so awkward m 
her eSorts to influence her husband thmkmg that the 
grace of the crown bestowed on her by Louis conferred 
all other rights as well took the liberty of niediatmg 
m favour of the personages whom Fleury had rendered 
odious m the eyes of the Kmg She pleaded their 
cause so warmly and so tragically that Lotns atFleury's 
instigation began to thmk that the Queen s cause was 
no longer his He regarded this mtervention as 
monstrous and he never forgave the Queen but ever 
afterwards bore her a grudge At the same tune 
Fleury who from the early days of the mamage had 
been annoyed at the Queen s un^Tupathetic attitude 
towards himself showed an overt antipathy to Marie 
Lectinska now that she had declared herself the friend 
of those whom he denounced as the King 5 enemies 
The same decree which Imposed imprisonment on 
Madame de Pne tolled the knell of the Queen s happiness 
(June 1726) 

Mane noticed at once that the King s feelings for her 

14 






MARIE LECZINSKA 


had changed The day follovraig the fall of the Due de 
Bourhon’s mimstiy, he signified to her, without adding 
the shghtest word of affection, his formal wish that she 
should obey the new mimster unreservedly. “ I beg, 
Madame, and, if necessary, I order you to place credence 
m everything that the former Archbishop of Frejus 
teUs you on my behalf, as though he were I — Louis ” 
The master gave his orders, and took httle account of 
the pain which he was inflicting on the Queen Mane 
wept openly over this letter before ViUars, so tragic was 
the blow which the King had dealt her But she obeyed 
with all the sincenty of her nature, and made no 
complamt Neither did she complain a few days later 
when she was ill, and had to wait four days before the 
King went to see her Loms XV feared that the Queen 
might be suffenng from small-pox, so the greater anxiety 
for his own health even kept him from wondermg if his 
absence might not perchance hurt the Queen's feehngs 
In the end, after the doctor had pronounced the flhiess 
to be nothmg more senous than indigestion, the King 
went to see her, but his visits lasted only a few minutes 
Dunng her convalescence Loms spent three-quarters of 
an hour every day with the Queen, but Fleury remamed 
with him the whole time After a month’s convales- 
cence Mane received the longed-for pemussion to rejoin 
her husband at Versailles It was on the very day 
when she was expected that Louis elected to hunt the 
stag instead of going to meet his Queen Finally, when 
Mane presented her first children to the Eung, she 
trembled from fear of the King’s displeasure when she 
learned that instead of the desired son she had nothmg 
to offer him but twm daughters (the 14th of August, 
1727) But the Kmg was delighted with the Queen’s 

15 



MARIE LECZmSKA 

generous gift so mncli so that m the pnde of his young 
fatherhood he exclaimed ' Only thmV, d Argeaison 
declared that I could not have children 1 And see I 
lusteid of one I have two 
This birth of the twins however did not satisfy the 
needs of the Crown, An hear to the throne of Franco 
was essential The whole nation looked for it and 
Flenry considered the Queen singularly maladroit m 
having failed to give one to the King It was for this 
reason that he resolved to mterfere with the object of 
promoting the desired event First of all he pointed 
out to Louis XV that the constant changes of which ho 
was so fond were not to be recommended for the Qnecn 
until she should have given a dauphin to Franco, 
Louis great traveller that he was mmiedmtdy issued 
instructions that Mane was no longer to follow him 
from chiteau to chltean. So Mane I^ocnnska passed 
the greater part of her tune far from her husband. 
Her conversations m future with him whom sheregarded 
as her earthly god were more often to be wntten than 
spoken But she was not allowed to write to I-ouis 
direct. Her letters were forwarded through Flenry 
who rephed for the King and often forgot mtenbonally 
to transmit the Queen a loving messages to her husband 
These letters of Mane Lecnnska s to Flcury the aim and 
object of which was the Ring did harm by their sub- 
nussiveness their abnegation and the sorrowful 
affection which they expressed for the distant husband, 

I implore the King wrote the Queen " to cease 
wnting to me if it i» a bother provided that in 
these lost moments he thinks a httle of a wife 
whose love for him is as passionate os it is tender 
What resigned and Christian bitterness underiies 

i6 



]\IARIE LECZINSKA 

the expressions . " if it is a bother ” and “ in these 
lost moments ” > 

It was these same tender and sorrowful sentiments 
which characterized the life of the Queen durmg the 
eleven years of the Royal couple’s mtimacy which 
followed the faU of the Due de Bourbon and Madame de 
Pne These eleven, years and the eight months which 
went before have been called Mane Leezmska’s happy 
years But, after the first eight months, not a smgle 
week passed without her beggmg her husband to 
remember her, and flattenng the old mimster m order 
to find out how and where the Kmg might be Each 
fresh expectation of motherhood was cause for anxiety, 
too She longed to give the Kmg the son whom he 
wanted, and stem heaven only granted her daughters 
The birth of the twms was followed in 1728 by that of 
another daughter In 1729 Mane had the great joy of 
givmg birth to the Dauphin Loms, and m 1730 to the 
Due d’ Anjou But m March, 1732, the senes of 
daughters began again First came Madame Adelaide ; 
then, m May, 1733, Madame Victoire , in July, 1734, 
Madame Sophie , m May, 1736, Therese-F^hcite , m 
July, 1737, Lomse-Mane, who took the veil as a 
Carmehte m 1770 Neither could the Queen rear all 
her children To her intense gnef she lost the Due 
d’ Anjou on the 7th of April, 1733, while Therese-Fehcit^ 
was to die later (September, 1744) at the Abbey of 
Fontevrault 

Notwithstandmg the repeated birth of children, the 
estrangement of husband and wife became more 
pronounced each day The King withdrew more and 
more from his Queen, for whom he seemed only to have 
a physical attraction Mane no longer hoped to wm 


2 



RtARIE LECZINSKA 

the man -whom she had only been able to love in her 
own awkward fashion and Loins XV submitted with 
unconsaous impatience to a tie which only the deep 
sense of religion inculcated by Fleury made him respect 
and fretted at the bashfulness which he felt m the 
presence of women More and more he wearied of this 
virtaom wife who was incapable of holdmg bim by 
coquetry whose pious reticences conflicted with his 
desires and who was listless from having brought so 
many children mto the world As the Marquis 
d Argensonsaysmhia Afrfmoirtfs (Vol III) It was the 
descendmg scale the mevitablo road pointing the way 
to new diatractiona s 

Mane had moreover lost the only beauty which she 
ever possessed the beauty of youth. Her thirty thtce 
years had been oppressed by continual child bearing 
which had left its traces on her fece. Louis XV observed 
this and sought to supplement his conjugal joys by 
culinary pleasures He mvented elaborate dishes 
concocted jams snacks and tit tats which 
after amusmg him vastty made him very nek. He grew 
interested too m scandal and Court gossip and at 
last for the first tune m his life dared to let his looks 
linger on pretty girls Watchful of the King's everj 
gesture three women who were nearly related to him 
hastened without loss of tune to mitiate him mto 
jfleasures to which he was as yet a stranger 
Thus it was that Louis XV was dragged'into a \*ortex 
of select suppers and partte* tarriti and mtroduced to 
the intoxicating delights of women and wine. At one 
of these suppers in the year 1732 he toasted the Fair 
Unknerwn ! whom everyone imderstood to bo the 
chosen of the moment For some time past the Queen 
18 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


had been aware of the King's neglect, but slie went in 
too mudi fear of liim to utter reproaches She re- 
doubled her pra3rers and, with tears in her eyes, besought 
Fleur}'' to bring back her husband. But the " Fair 
Unknown whom the King had chosen was approved 
by Fleur}’', because she did not meddle in politics So 
Fleur}' remained impassive before the Queen's grief. 
Such callousness made Marie Leezmska indignant. 
For the first time she rebelled against her fate. She 
became dolent, resentful, impatient. She expressed 
her hatred of the favourite and sought to do her an 
injur}' But the fit was transitor}'. Her respect for 
and gratitude to the King, the sur\'ival of her affection 
for liim nohvithstanding the disappointments wluch he 
inflicted, her thought for her o^\^l dignity, and her deep 
religious faith, soon brought her to a state of heroic 
resignation m which she walked softly and gently from 
one sacrifice to another 

Henceforward, when the King entered the salon he 
no longer went up to the Queen’s table Occasionally 
the courtiers, who modelled their behaviour on that of 
the monarch’s, multiphed their excuses for not playing 
cards with the Queen The unhappy Sovereign might 
be seen running about the corridors of the palace 
seeking for partners whom she did not always find 
One day Loms, absorbed in conversation with his 

I 

favourite, kept the Queen standing for three-quarters 
of an hour before he remembered to give her permission 
to be seated He became so harsh to her that Mane 
ended by no longer danng to speak to him and trembled 
at the sound of his voice As by this time everyone 
knew that the Queen had no influence, she lived, 

^ Sfee the chapter on Three Ladtes at Supper 

19 



MARIE LECZIKSKA 


abandoned by tbe Court in an isolated corner of the 
palace with the Dnchesse do NoaiUoa Moncnf her 
reader and Pftre Gnfiet a Jesint Her only amuse- 
ments were to spend an occasional evening with her 
faithful fnends the Due and Duchease de Luynes and 
to keep up a r^ular correspondence with her father, 
who was so proud and so happy to see his daughter 
Queen of France 1 At the de Li^es one talked, 
while the dog, Tmtamarre snored in the chinmey- 
comer To Stanislas Mane would alwavs appear 
contented even m the midst of the humiliations which 
her fihal love suSered by reason of Fleuiy s despicable 
b^iaviour during the Polish war of succession These 
humiliations however were forgotten when Stanislas 
received the Duchy of Lorrame as compensation for his 
mortificatious (1736) But despite all that she did 
the talk of the palace on the subject of the King s amours 
reached the cars of the person closest in her afiectlons 
I^ms having tired of his first favourite fell m love with 
her sister the ambitioas and witty Comtesse de 
Vmtimille. Death snatched her from him before she 
had attamed her twentieth year (1741) Then the King 
became enamoured of another sister of the dead imstreas 
the beautiful, proud Duchesse de ChAteauroux Wth 
her the Kmg had the illusion of glory but suddenly 
falling ill he was seized with the fear of hell which m 
the past Fleury had strongly inculcated and Wane 
Lccrinska, summoned to her Royal spouse, had an 
opportunity of disputing the claims of his pass in g 
fancies (August, 1744) Neaertheless she had but one 
thought that of reconoUng Louis to God 

In her fervour as militant Chnstian she desired that 
an traces of her husband s faults should be expunged. 


20 



MARIE LEC2INSKA 


Encouraged b}'’ the Queen, the Royal confessor, Pdre 
Perusseau, demanded the expulsion of the Duchesse de 
Chateauroux, and of her sister, the Duchesse de Laura- 
gais, before administcnng the blessed sacrament to the 
King When Louis made his confession, his confessor 
insisted that he should publicly renounce his amoiin, 
and it was tlie Archbishop of Soissons who, by request 
of the Queen, solicited m the King's name public pardon 
for his faults Such noisy and clumsy zeal should have 
been veiled with great tenderness if Louis XV were to 
be brought back to iMane Leezmska , but the Queen 
was merely lartuous Vdien the King was restored to 
health and tried to be to her what he once had been, 
she closed her door against him Slie was never again 
to have an opportunit}^ of refusing her husband Soon 
the Marquise de Pompadour was to reign at Court and 
the shadony form of the Queen to recede further and 
further into the background * 

Mane, humiliated at Court, was saddened also by her 
successive bereavements The death (23rd of February, 
1766) of her well-beloved father, who was burnt m the 
superb dressing-goivn which she had so dehghted in 
presenting to him, was an acute sorrow She had never 
got over the gnef caused by the death of her children, 
and it was the last straw when her husband sent his 
daughters to be educated at the Abbey Fontevrault, 
The favounte was such an expense that the King could 
not afford to have the Daughters of France educated 
at Versailles. 

One day Louis mflicted Madame de Pompadour on 
Mane Leezmska as lady-in-waitmg The Queen sub- 
mitted, merely observing I have a heavenly King 
^ See the chapter on the Marqutse de Pompadour. 


KARIE LECZmSKA 


abandoned by the Court, in an isolated comer of the 
palace with the Dnchesse de Noailles, Moncnf her 
reader, and Pfero Gnfiet, a Jesmt Her only amnse- 
ments were to spend an occasional evening with her 
faithful fnends, the Due and Duchesse de Luynes and 
to keep up a regular correspondence with her father 
who was so proud and so happy to see his daughter 
Queen of France I At the de Li^mes one talked 
while the dog Tmtamarre snored m the chimney- 
corner To Stanislas Mane would always appear 
contented even m the midst of the humiliations which 
her fihal love suffered by reason of Fleurv s despicable 
behaviour during the Polish wax of successiOE. These 
humiliations however were forgotten when Stanislas 
received the Xhichy of Lorraine as compensation for his 
mortifications {1736) But despite all that' she did 
the talk of the palace on the subject of the Eng’s amoitn 
reached the ears of the person closest m her affections 
Louis having tired of his first favounte fell in love with 
her sister the ambitious and witty Comtesse de 
Vintimille Death Snatched her from hini before she 
had attaraed her twentieth (1741) Then the King 
became enamoured of another sister of the dead mistress 
the beautiful proud Duchesse de CbAteauroux. With 
her the Eng had the iUusioD of glory but suddenly 
falling ill he was seized with the fear of hell which m 
the past Fleury had strongly inculcated and Mane 
Lecsinaka, summoned to her Rcyal spouse had an 
opportumty of disputing the claims of his passing 
fancies (August 1744) Nevertheless she bad but one 
thought that of roconoUng Louis to God 

In her fervour as militant Christian she desired that 
all traces of her husband b faults should be expunged- 


20 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


Encouraged the Queen, the Royal confessor, Pcre 
P^russeau. demanded the expulsion of the Duchesse de 
Chateauroux, and of her sister, the Duchesse de Ixwra- 
gais, before administering the blessed sacrament to the 
Kmg. ^^dlen Louis made his confession, liis confessor 
insisted that he should publicly renounce liis amours, 
and it was the Archbishop of Soissons who, by request 
of the Queen, solicited in the King’s name public pardon 
for his faults. Such noisy and clums)^ zeal should liai'c 
been railed with great tenderness if Louis XV were to 
he brought back to Mane Leczinska ; but the Quec*' 
was merely rirtuous. When the King was restored to 
health and tried to be to her what he once had berr, 
she closed her door against him. She uas never acair 
to ha*v*e an opportumty of refusing her husband. So:- 
the ^larquise de Pompadour was to reign at Coun ar f 
the shadory form of the Queen to recede further a- i 



MARIE LECZINSKA 


who consoles me for all my ills and an earthly King 
whom I shall always obey ’ It was m this strong 
Christian attitude that Mane Leczinska the humihatcd 
and resigned wiie, the sorely tried mother the neglected 
Queen after sufienng mudi, after lovmg and succouring 
the poor and praymg for sinners, passed away at 
Versailles on the 24th of June 1768 without anything 
appeanng to be changed by her death. 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 


After witnessing a performance of Polyencte, Madame 
de S6vign6 in a communicative, puzzled frame of mind 
spoke of the heroine, observing to her fnends “ There 
was a good woman who did not love her husband " 
Our own frame of mind is akin to that of the charming 
Marquise when we consider the behaviour of the 
Comtesse de Toulouse m relation to her nephew. King 
Loms XV Astomshed and perplexed likewise, we are 
tempted to exclaim “ There was a virtuous woman who 
left nothing undone to alienate her royal nephew from 
his wife and to drag him into dissipations • ” 

It was about 1730 that the Comtesse de Toulouse 
appears to have gamed a real influence over the 
affections and life of Louis XV She was at this time 
one of the greatest ladies at Court, and also one of the 
most highly esteemed Daughter of Anne, Mardchal 
Due de Noailles, and of Mane-Fran90ise de Boumeville, 
Mane-Victoire-Sophie de Noailles was bom on the 6th 
of May, 1688 In 1709, when a httle over twenty, she 
mamed the Marqms de Gondrm, Loms de Pardaillan 
d’Antm, grandson of Madame de Montespan and the 
Marqms de Montespan, her husband The young wife 
brought a handsome dowry to the Marqms de Gondrm, 
many quahties, rare virtues, and a beauty which every- 
one declared to be remarkable 

The reputation of the de Noailles for bravery and 
loyalty, as well as their old title, which dated back to 

23 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 


the Crusades still further enhanced the worth of the 
young Marquise and made the Marquis justly proud 
of her while that perfect and ambitious courtier his 
stepfather promised himself all kmds of favours from 
such a mamage But this union lasted too short a 
tune for Louis de PardaiUan d Antm to gam the glory 
and pleasures from it that ho had anbapated or for his 
father to use it as an opportumty to obtam fresh 
pnvfleges The young Marquis died less than three 
years after his mamage to Mane-Vlctoire and at the 
age of twenty four the Marquise was left a widow with 
a son under two years ol<L 
But Madame de Gondnn was too distinguished and 
too charmmg to remain for long unnoticed and without 
arousmg lo\ e m the hearts of her fnends After a long 
year of widowhood given over to repining and mourning 
the dead Mane-Victoire yielded to the entreaties of her 
dearest fnend Mademoiselle de Charolais and rqiaired 
to Versailles where she began to go into society and to 
receive her fnends Almost at once one of them began 
to pay her the most marked attention he was happy 
only when m her presence and fell into a state of 
melancholy when parted from her This fond and 
susceptible fnend whose rapture and admiration for 
the Marquise grew with each day was no less a personage 
than a prmce namely Louis Alexandre Comte de 
Toulouse bom on the 6th of June 1678 the j^ungest 
son of Louis XIV and the Marquise de Montespan 
When his father legitinurcd him he was given the 
prerogatives of a Prmce of the Blood and he was loved 
and honoured by all who came in contact with him 
He was still quite young when Louis XTV wished bun 
to take part In the War of the League of Augsburg and 
*4 



COMTESSE DE TOULOUSE 


the young Pnnce distinguished himself by his valour 
and mitiative Of all Loms XIV's sons, he was,' 
perhaps, the most bnlhant in war. The Comte de^ 
Toulouse combined with his mihtary quahties all the 
virtues of peace and the gifts which make a good subject 
and a devoted and worthy head of a family. Samt- 
Simon, who was not tender towards Louis’ legitimized 
children, says of him . “ He won all hearts by his gentle, 
gracious manners, his justice and his hberahty ” Such 
was the Pnnce who loved the Marqmse de Gondnn, and 
who soon became passionately enamoured of her. 
Through Madame de Montespan he was uncle to the 
Marqms de Gondnn, and so from the very beginning of 
his passion for the young widow, his relationship was his 
excuse for visitmg her more often than a mere fnend 
In a veiy short time love, which he awakened m her, 
rendered further excuse unnecessary 
Indeed, proud as were the superb dark eyes of the 
Marqmse, they soon expressed nothing but tenderness 
and passion for the Comte de Toulouse Her lovely 
mouth, a perfect cupid's bow embelhshed with pearly- 
white teeth, opened graciously to welcome the Count 
and talk on his favourite subjects Madame de 
Gondnn’s whole person seemed affected and regenerated 
by the passion which she both mspired and felt Her 
^ face, shghtly too round, with cheeks which were a httle 
too plump, grew more refined under the mfluence of her 
love , her smile became still more charming , her colour, 
which was rather too high, toned down, while her bosom, 
her arms and her hands kept that beauty which often 
caused her to be compared with a magnificent statue. 
Like the lovely statues of antiqmty, the Marqmse de 
Gondnn had a well-developed figure and was 'above the 

25 


THREF LADIES AT SUPPER 

the Cmsades stall further enhanced the worth of the 
young Marquise and made the Marqms justly proud 
of her while that perfect and ambitious courtier his 
stepfather promised himself all kmds of favours from 
such a marriage But this union lasted too short a 
tune for Loms de PardaiUan d’Antm to gam the glory 
and pleasures from it that he had antiapated or for his 
father to use it as an opportumty to obtain fresh 
privileges The young Marquis di6d less than three 
years after his mamage to Mane-Victoire and at the 
age of twenty four the Marquise was left a widow with 
a son under two years old. 

But Madame de Gondnn was too distinguished and 
too charming to remam for long unnoticed and without 
arousmg love m the hearts of her fnends After a long 
year of widowhood given over to repining and mourning 
the dead Mane-Victoire yielded to the entreaties of her 
dearest friend. Mademoiselle de Charolais and repaired 
to Versailles where she began to go into sodetv and to 
receive her fnends Almost at once one of them began 
to pay her the most marked attention he was happy 
only when m her presence and fell into a state of 
melancholy when parted from her This fond and 
susceptible fnend whose rapture and admiratioa for 
the Marqmse grew with each day was no less a personage 
than a prmce namely I^ms Alexandre Comte de 
Tonlonse bom on the 6th of June 1678 the youngest 
son of Louis XIV and the Marquise do Montespan 
IVhen his father legituruxcd him he was given the 
prerogatives of a Prince of the Blood and he was loved 
and honoured by all who came in contact with hum 
He was bUU quite yoimg when lunus XTV wished him 
to take part in the War of the League of Augsburg and 
*4 



COMTESSE DE TOULOUSE 


the young Pnnce distinguished himself by lus valour 
and mitiative Of all Louis XIV's sons, he was, 
perhaps, the most bnlliant m war The Comte de 
Toulouse combined wth lus military quahties allThe 
virtues of peace and the gifts which make a good subject 
and a devoted and worth}'’ head of a family. Saint- 
Simon, who was not tender towards Loms' legitimized 
children, says of him " He won all hearts by his gentle, 
gracious manners, his justice and his hberality " Such 
was the Prince who loved the Marqmse de Gondnn, and 
who soon became passionately enamoured of her 
Through Madame de Montespan he was uncle to the 
Marqms de Gondnn, and so from the very beginning of 
his passion for the young widow, his relationship was his 
excuse for visiting her more often than a mere fnend 
In a very short time love, which he awakened m her, 
rendered further excuse unnecessary. 

Indeed, proud as were the superb dark eyes of the 
Marqmse, they soon expressed nothing but tenderness 
and passion for the Comte de Toulouse Her lovely 
mouth, a perfect cupid’s bow embelhshed with pearly- 
white teeth, opened graciously to welcome the Count 
and talk on his favourite subjects Madame de 
Gondnn’s whole person seemed affected and regenerated 
by the passion which she both mspired and felt Her 
, face, shghtly too round, with cheeks which were a httle 
too plump, grew more refined under the mfluence of her 
love , her smile became still more chamrung , her colour, 
which was rather too high, toned do’wn, while her bosom, 
her arms and her hands kept that beauty which often 
caused her to be compared with a magnificent statue 
Like the lovely statues of sintiqmty, the Marqmse de 
Gondnn had a well-developed figure and was 'above the 

25 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 


average in lieigiit with a noble carnage and a dignified 
walk- Her whole person bore the stamp of distinction 
and was tinged with something of ma] esty and command- 
Tho Marquise was also one of the wittiest the most 
agreeable and best educated women at Court it was 
mdeed her excellent education which differentiated her 
most from her great fnend Mademoiselle de Charolais 
and which contributed to make two totally dissimilar 
women of these mtimate fnends 

The Comte de Toulouse would have liked to marrv the 
young widow directly he knew that she loved him. But 
Phihppe d Orleans was governing the kingdom as 
Regent of France at the time and all were aware that 
he desired to take advantage of every opportunity to 
depnve Lords XTV s legitnnized sons of then vanous 
prerogatives On the 15th of September 1715 Philqipe 
had made Parliament annul Louis XTV 9 will which 
entrusted the command of the Honsehold troops as 
well as the guardianship and education of the young 
King to the Due du Maine the eldest brother of the 
Comte de Toulouse and in 1717 he depnved this same 
Duke of a^ the prerogatives of a Prince of the Blood 
The Comte de Toulouse reflected that the Regent might 
take it mto his head to »tnp the House of Toulouse of 
its piivil^es as he had done in the case of the House of 
Marne if the head of this House should attract attention 
by marrying He therefore deemed it prudent to defer 
his marriage and the ilorquise shared his pomt of view 
It was for thin reason that thty contmued to love one 
another m secret awaiting a more favourable time for 
their union and in the meantime seckmg oblivion 
Far from mtnguing after the manner of the Due de 
Maine whose proposal to enter into the conspiracy 
26 



COMTESSE DE TOULOUSE 


which was being hatched' with Spam, he indignantly 
repulsed,, the Comte de Toulouse withdrew more and 
more from public affairs, findmg consolation for his 
mactmty m the love of the beautiful Marquise. But 
the Regent was scarcely dead (1723) before he besought 
Madame de Gondnn to become his Pnnces's ; and they 
soon made the happiest of homes for themselves. The 
Comte de Toulouse by his patience, prudence, loyalty 
and skill had preserved all its prerogatives for his House. 
He was the only one of the children of Louis XIV and 
Madame de Montespan to enjoy all the advantages of a 
Prmce of the Blood, and to be treated as such. 

Madame de Gondnn was nearly twenty-six when she 
became Prmcess , but her beauty had never been more 
wonderful, nor herself more in love Her husband v/as 
the happiest of men when he raised her to his rank, and 
the burning love which he had dedicated to her for a 
long time past could but grow stronger during their 
yearn of mamed life Not onl}" was the Comte de 


Toulouse absolutely faithful to his Countess, but he 
found a voluptuous pleasure in being so. The mutual 
affection of the wedded pair seemed to increase day by 
day The only sorro^vs of this perfect couple were the 
loss of several children. The Comte ana Ccmtesse ce 
Toulouse had a numerous family ; but m spire of tneir 
efforts and de%'otion they only rearea one cmc, orno 
became later the Due de Penihieore, and in this dear 
young life were centred all tneir mrerests ana nepea. 

Such was the woman wno, H'c^arcs 2730, strive, in 
concert with her friend, Zdaaemcise—e c-r m 

give Louis XV a taste fin nnrinaen a_a 

distracting love affairs, lo is z-n 
ilademoiselle de (ynzzojsss was a_ . 






/ 


27 



THREE LADIES AT SITPPER 


average in height, with a nohle carnage and a dignified 
walk. Her whole person bore the stamp of distinction 
and was tinged with something of majesty and command. 
The Marquise was also one of the wittiest, the most 
agreeable and best educated women at Court , it was 
indeed her excellent education which differentiated her 
most from her great fnend Mademoiselle de Charolais 
and which contnbuted to make two totally dissimilar 
women of these intimate friends 

The Comte de Toulouse would have liked to marry the 
young widow directly ho knew that she loved him. But 
Phihppe d Orleans was govemmg the kingdom as 
Regent of France at the time and all were aware that 
he desired to take advantage of every opportunity to 
depnve Louia XTV s legitnnued sons of that vanous 
prerogatives On the 15th of September 1715 Phihppe 
had made Parhament annul Lotris XTV^s will which 
entrusted the command of the Household troops as 
well as the guardianship and education of the young 
King to the Due du Marne the eldest brother of the 
Corate de Toulouse and m 1717 he dq?nved this same 
Duke of aU the prerogatives of a Prince of the Blood. 
The Comte de Toulouse reflected that the Regent might 
take it into his head to stnp the House of Toulouse of 
its privileges as he Vintl done in the oise oi the House of 
Marne if the head of thiq House should attract attention 
by marrying He therefore deemed it prudent to defer 
his marriage and the Marquise shared his point of view 
It was for this reason that they continued to love one 
another m secret awaiting a more favourable tune for 
their umon and in the meantime seeking obhvicm. 
Far from mtnguing after the manner of the Due de 
Maine whose proposal to enter into the conspiiac> 

36 




THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

woman to delight in such a task. But it is no less 
accurate to add that the Kings estrangement from 
Mane Lecnnska waa in the beginning more the work 
of the Comtesse de Toulouse than that of Mademoiselle 
de Charolais 

Lomso-Anno de Bourbon called Mademoiselle de 
Charolais was bom on the a3rd of June Z695 at 
Chantilly She was the third of the sue daughters of 
Louis de Bourbon and Mademoiselle de Nantes his wde, 
and at the same time a descendant of Louis XIV and the 
Condd-Bourbon. She was Lonis XTV’s grand-danghter 
through her mother oSspnng of the King's amours 
with Madame de Montespan and a Cond^-Bourbon 
through her father son of a first cousm of the victor 
ofRocroi who like his cousm was called Doc d Enghien. 
Mademoiselle de Charolais got her wit beauty and vices 
from both sides but almost all them virtues passed her 
by She had been very much attached to the Comtesse 
de Toulouse ever smee the latter s widowhood but 
nothing cemented the fnendahip between the two 
Princesses more firmly than their design to introduce the 
Kin g to a new life It is difficult to understand 
mtense fnendship of these two women , for not only 
was Mademoiselle de Charolais completely different 
fromtheComtessedeTonlousc but she was as unarctim 
spect m her behaviour as her fnend was dignified of 
exemplary conduct and religiously mclmed. 

It was in 1715 that Mademoiselle de Charolais 
definitdy threw off all constraint so that she might 
freely indulge her love of vit^ent pleasures and exate 
ment From this time forward her instinct and 
caprice were her only guides She loved just os often 
as the fancy took her She had numerous Io\ ers whom 
aS 



]\iADEMOISELLE DE CHAROLAIS 


she left as amty as she took them. The Due de Melun, 
the Chevaher de Ba-\d6re, the Prince de Dombes, the 
Comte de Coigny, and above all the Due de Richeheu, 
always remained her favountes The Princess Palatine 
ivrote on the ist of October, 1719, with reference to the 
Princess’s love for Richelieu : “ Mademoiselle declared 
before everybody that she was as much m love as a 
cat ivith the Due de Richeheu ” But this love did not 
make her at all jealous , for, when someone remarked 
that the Duke had half-a-dozen rmstresses at the same 
time, she replied ecstatically * “ True ' He keeps 

mistresses merely to give them up for me and to tell me 
what goes on among them ” Tins did not prevent the 
youthful Pnneess from saying to Richeheu "Always 
be ]ust such a lover and jmu voU be the most adorable 
of men ’’ It was but natural that such danng manners 
and sensual amours should be freely attacked m 
lampoons 

" If fnsky and young Charolais," 
runs one of them, 

" For Richeheu love doth display, 

Why, 'tis bred in the bone , 

But what trouble for one. 

When her mother had more 
At her age than a score ' 

Mademoiselle de Charolais followed only too closely 
the example of Mademoiselle de Nantes, her mother, and 
if she had not half-a-dozen lovers at one and the same 
time, almost every year and without making any great 

^ " Qtie Charolais jeune et fringante, 

Pour Richeheu soil complaisante, 

N'est-ce pas le sort de son sang ? 

Mats pour un seul e’est bien la peine, 

Quand, a son &ge, sa mantan 
En avail plus de deux douzatnes I ” 

29 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 


secret of it she brought a child into the world. The 
event would take place at the ChAteau. de MadruJ her 
usual residence. For six weeks Mademoiselle de 
Charolais would give out that she was ill and almost the 
whole Court would send to enquire without however, 
pressmg to know the nature of her complaint But one^ 
year the porter was changed a day or two before the 
expected bnth. No one haH tune to inform him of the 
etiquette of the castle so when three days after the 
baby s arrival a footman came to enquire on behalf of 
his mistress how Mademoiselle de Charolais was 
pir^ressing the porter consaentiously rephed ‘ The 
Princess is going on as well as can be expected, and the 
child also 

These repeated exertions did not prevent MademoiseDe 
de Charolais from preserving her rjayalmg beauty 
Endowed with delightful dark eyes as sparkling with 
mischief as they were provocatively charming she had a 
ravishing little red mouth with hps half parted m a 
voluptuous smile which made one want to close them 
with a kiss Her complexion had the bnlllance and 
freshness of June roses and her whole person was as 
hvely and graceful as a kitten s But this kitten had 
claws which could scratch on occasion for Maderaolsello ' 
was full of spints and loved making fnn of cvei3^e- 
She was besides very amusing, her way of turning 
everything mto ridicule was umque unexpected and 
50 droll that one could not help laughing The only 
impleasmg thmg about her was the contemptuous 
haughty air which she often aficctcd. But when she 
condescends to a httle coquetry she is mdecd charming ' , 
wntes the Doc do Rlchehcu m his M/woirw In short 
MademoiseUe de Charolais combmed the arrogance of 
30 



Pl.ATE IV 



LOUISE ANNE DE BOURBON. PRINCESS OF THE BLOOD, called 
MADEMOISELLE DE CHAROLAIS 

Bom June 1695 died 1758 

Fiom Ihc portrait by !B°^cher of SitaJemohelle dt Charolals as a Franciscan monk 


[face p 30 




mademoiselle de charolais 

\ 

the Condos, the wit of the Montemarts, the capricious 
daring and extravagant disposition of Madame de 
Montespan, and Mademoiselle de Nantes’ thirst for 
pleasure with a boldness all her own 
Prompted by this boldness, Mademoiselle de Charolais 
adored shocking the propneties. One sees her, for 
example, bemg painted several times as a nun so that 
she may give her portrait to her lovers. On the 31st 
of March, 1719, the Prmcesse Palatine stated that the 
Prmcess w^ pamted as a Franciscan nun in order that 
she might be mcluded in the senes of the Due de 
Richeheu’s mistresses. Later, Boucher painted her as a 
Grey Fnar, making her appear infimtely attractive 
\ beneath the coarse serge habit of the order. Voltaire 
probably had this portrait of Boucher's in mind when 
he wrote 


“ Angehc Fnar de Charolais, 

Instead of Venus’ girdle, why 
About your waist, O teU us, pray, 

St. Francis’ hempen cord you tie 1 

And yet it was with this madcap Pnneess that the 
dignified, virtuous and pious Comtesse de Toulouse 
plotted to draw the King far from the Queen’s Court 
and to initiate him into the pleasures of late suppers, 
washed down with every land of generous wine, as well 
as to the dehghts of gay and unconventional society. 

But the two friends proceeded with dehberation. 
Despite their ardent desire to reheve the King’s 
boredom, perhaps, as has been claimed, in order to 
prevent him from faJHng mto worse habits, the Comtesse 

^ Ange Frdre de Charolais , 

Dts-notis par quelle aventure 
Le cordon de saint Franqois 
Seri a Venus de ceinture I ” 



TflREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

de Toulouse and Mademoiselle de Charolais only 
meddled in the King*3 life by slow degrees At first 
they merely sought to mfluence him through the 
attractions of the Court of Rambomllet * 

The Comte and Comtessc de Toulouse had made this 
superb abode and beautiful demesne the society refuge 
of all those who regretted the lost grandeur of the age 
of Loms XIV At Rambomllet the lofty speech the 
distiugmshed manners and gestures of the grand stide 
had been retamed. Whereas at Versailles, woman was 
enjoyed and not respected at RambouiUet the was 
respected more than she was allowed to be loved at anj 
rate openly At RambouiUet life luxury wif and 
learning were savoured fastidiously file some dehcate 
exhalation or perfume. Eveiything was m good taste 
shghtly pedantic hannonious, discreet and yet 
magnificent One breathed there an air to be found 
nowhere else which recalled that of the rich communities 
wherein soaety men and women withdrew to serve their 
God while at the same time ministeimg to their need of 
an ideal and refinement if love-making did not occup} 
the predommant place in their thoughts But the 
love-makmg of RambouiUet differed in e\eiy respect 
from that at Versailles There it was pervasive without 
bemg rasistent pleasant without bang distracting 
witty without bong bnihant soothing stimulating 
It had hTce the beautiful mistress of the house, a unique 
charm of mystiasm of grandeur and of learning Under 
the influence of this atmosphere Mademoiselle de 
Charolais appeared at Ramboulllet as she appeared 
nowhere else she jested without bdng audacious and 
was smart agreeable and gay without e\cro\*crsteppmg 
* Tb* Chlt«a o^ RimborfU^ wm bought by hauls XtT In *77^ 

32 



MADEMOISELLE DE CHAROLAIS 

the hunts iniposed by good education and unerring 
taste 

Thus at Rambouillet there was nothing to alarm 
Louis XV, nothmg to worry him, or to make him look 
small, as happened, for instance, at all ambassadonal 
levees where nervousness prevented Inm from speaking 
with assurance and made him stammer at every word 
Neither had he any occasion to fear temptations which 
might prove prejudicial to his conjugal fidelity, or 
embarrassmg obsessions This Prince, who loved on 
such rare occasions, and only by fits and starts, or by 
habit, who all his hfe was first and foremost the indolent 
egoist into which he had developed as a result of the 
mcapable ViUeroy’s foohsh, inadequate education and 
Fleuiy’s ambition, found at Rambouillet a dehghtful 
miheu, well-mformed and restful, which, far from 
alarmmg or making him nervous, made Inm flunk 
without mental exertion, created the illusion of an 
energy which others expended for him and supphed Inm 
with the charm of emotions at once voluptuous, rehgious 
and artistic Loms, without admitting to Inmself the 
extent of Rambomllet’s influence and attraction, 
yielded to the allurements of the Court of Madame de 
Toulouse, and deserted the Queen He emerged from 
his state of melancholy and assumed the air of a busy 
and happy man The Comtesse de Toulouse managed 
to give him the illusion that he was working She 
prejudiced him agamst Chauvehn, whom the de Noailles 
detested and determined at all costs to prevent from 
beconung Fleury's successor, and Loms thought he was 
doing the work of a King by considering how best he 
could deprive this.mimster of power 
Loms very soon ceased to confine his visits to the 

33 


3 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

Coart at Rambouillet Ho grew more and more bold 
and giudoally began to visit the castles of the fnends 
of M ada m e de Toulonso and of Mademoiselle de 
Charolais He might be seen at Bagatelle making 
merry or amnsing himself with the Max^chale d'Esti^es 
often gomg to La Muette the nearest of aU hia estates 
to Mademoiselle de Charolais charming folate At 
M ad r id it was not long before the Kmg remained 
to snpper which the high spirits and songs of 
Mademoiselle de Charolais, as well as champagne and 
love mode a wildly notoos meaL Lotus delighted 
m these snp pei s at i«hich even the beautiful, stately 
Comtesse de Tonlonse who on these occasions was 
mcknamed " Fortunie , deigned to enjoy herseli with 
the utmost abandon amid the crowd of young beauties 
who followed everywhere In her tram These enter 
tainments were a real revelation to the King and he 
brought to them an animation of which one would not 
have suspected htm an almost infantile mirth and 
mdulged in saflies of wit which rivalled those of 
Mademoiselle de Charolais 
Ixrtus had now passed far beyond the stage when he 
hflff pronounced Mane I^eczmska to be the loveliest 
woman in Prance Mademoiselle de Charolais con 
sidered the time had arrived to ' debauch him as she 
expressed it Better fitted than anyone to win 
masculine hearts this gatfon who was a woman in sex 
and beauty only found it ptqtiani and pleasant to be the 
first to draw the King from the straight ^*1 narrow way 
She was at the time (1732) thirty-seven that is to saj 
fifteen years older than the Kmg but her face was as 

datzlingly fresh and youthful as at twenty her grace was 
spnghtly and her dark eyes os sparkling with mischief 

34 



i^IADEMOISELLE DE CHAROLAIS 


and love With more truth now than when he had first 
been smitten the discarded lover might exclaim : 

“ The ej'cs of my Ins 
Are doon\ays twain, 

Whereon ‘ room to let ’ is 
Wnltcn most plain 1 

Mademoiselle de Charolais inflamed the King by a 
thousand coquetries and made him participate in her 
love of the table and the bottle. 

" She can drink a great deal of wine without being 
intoxicated”, writes La 3^llatine. The King w'as 
bewildered by her adventurous spirit and bold beauty, 
and her inconstancies homfied him. He was amused 
by her natural, racy wit, winch made her the best 
raconteur of the broad stones of the period and of 
gossip after the fasluon of Voltaire’s talcs. lie was to a 
certain degree even fascinated b}^ her mode of hte and 
her absolute unscrupulousncss, winch made d';\l,'^eu^ou 
WTite : "If Mademoiselle had been bom auioue. 
the people she w’ould have been a recti ver of .s|()len 
goods, a thief, or a flower-girl.” Ihil he never Imd 
the smallest feeling of love for hei. Madomoisello 
de Charolais, piqued, but imagining that the King must 
he on the verge of loMng someone, slijiped into the 
young monarch’s pocket some lines inspii cd by the 
occasion 

“ How' bashful you are, and how si aid ! 

How' alluring your cy^'s soft glow I 
So youthful, and yet to evadr- 
The darts of the god v/jth the bow ? 

yenx dt m'/n In': 

Sort dtux p'jrUi cochhec 
Oil Von voii cn eicni : 

' ApparUmtnt a fatre I ' ” 

35 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

If Copid to teadi you derires 
Stibmit, opposition remove 
For long ere the reign of your Sirea 
He ruled m the fangdom of love * 

It was the spmt of mtngne much more than love or 
ambition which made Mademoiselle de Charolais try 
to wm the game Herem she differed widely from the 
Comfesse de Toulouse with whom at the time she 
monopolized the Kmg's mind and favour Mademoiselle 
de Charolais sought to corrupt him for the mere pleasure 
of doing so Fleury was not alanned for he felt 
sure of the Comtesse de Tonlonse and rehed on her to 
prevent all serious or harmful indiscretions Although 
he was aware that the Countess enjoyed managing 
men and affairs he entertained no fears that she would 
undermine hii authority Madame was too good a 
diplomatist to make an attack on so powerful a force 
as the CardmaL 

Some months ho w e ve r after the vam attempts of 
Mademoiselle de Charolais to besiege Lorns heart 
d Argerisou noticed almost every morning fresh tiairlLS 
of carnage wheds nmnmg from La Muetto to Madni 
As the avenues which connected the two castles were 
always closed to the public d Aigcnson was forced to 
conclude that the marks whldi he had observed could 
only have been made by the RojtiI carringe But if 
the King were going to Madrid by stealth it must mean 
that his heart bad been captured by one of the women 

» I eut 9tts Vkonmtttr untvtf* 

Et U *tgtra t/iuis^ 

Si pcMiTii i/ f« 4 rotr# itt 
1 ous fmttUs indiff/ml ? 

Si f«»*w rrtrf tout imstruirt 
CJdtt nt iiiputir rim 
0* « fondi voir* tmOir* 

BUn longUM^ sprit U tUn I 

36 



MADEMOISELLE DE CHAROLAIS 


\ 


who hved there Perhaps by Mademoiselle de 
Charolais, perhaps by one of her friends 
D’Argenson had reached tins point in his reflections 
when one evening at Madnd in the autumn of 1732 Loms, 
merrier and m higher spints than he had hitherto been 
at any supper-party, gaily and unblushingly proposed 
the toast “ to the Fair Unknown ! " The company, 
both male and female, who for weeks had been taking 
stock of the state of Loms XV’s affections and specula- 
ting as to the date of a love denouement which should 
transform the Pnnce’s hfe, gathered that “ the Fair 
Unknown had brought this denouement about. But 
who could she be ^ Loms took a dehght in excitmg 
general curiosity on the subject, even gomg so far as to 
suggest that the men present should guess her name A 
vote was immediately taken and seven out of twenty- 
four named Mademoiselle de Charolais 
But this high-spinted Princess was not the Beauty 
who had touched the King's heart. She, through whom 
the Kmg understood for the first time what the 
President Henault expressed so picturesquely m his 
Memoires when he said “ Mane Leczmska always 
had the nund and face of an old woman,” had neither 
the ambition nor the rank of Mademoiselle de Charolais 
Thrust forward by her fnends, and by Madame de 
Toulouse m particular, she mspired confidence m 
everyone because it was recogmzed that she had no wish 
either to rule or to dommeer, and that she was to be 
trusted Nevertheless, her fnends took the precaution 
to make her proimse that she would rest content with 
the sole honour of being loved by the Kmg and that she 
would attempt nothmg with him without first con- 
sultmg those persons to whom she owed affection The 

37 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

future favourite accepted this singular treaty had 
religioualy to observe it as long as she enjo37ed the 
King 8 favour For the present he was satisfied with 
Icmng bet in secret He even blushed at the mention 
of her name and toot great care to preserve appearances , 
for he did not desert the Queen until after the birth of 
Madame I,ouise Quiy 1737) whom he nicknamed 
‘ Madame Dendfere ' ( The Last ") in consequence of 
the afiront twice put upon hirp by the Queen m refusing 
to allow him to enter her bedroom The favounte, 
Julie de MaiUv, was the ddest daughter of the Marquis 
and Marquise de Nesle whose title dated back to the 
eleventh century and the poor neglected wife of a 
dmipated hiuband her first cousm, the Comte de 
Mailly to whom she had been mamed by force at the 
age of sixteen She asked nothmg better than to be 
allowed to show Lotus how much she loved him When 
the King first noticed her, it was she who made all the 
advances at their eai^ meetings and although years 
had passed smee they had exchanged their first kisses 
Julie de MaiUy remained the bolder and more enticing 
of the two She was a thin beauty with a provocative 
and sensuous charm. It is perhaps difficult to say 
that she was really beautiful but her dark eyes were 
magnificent although a httle hard her face a perfect 
oval and her rouged chedcs and strongly marked black 
eyebrows were striking and arrested attention. She 
bad the fearless bearrag the bold and mesmeric grace 
of a Bacchante. She was the true type of a woman of 
the Regency She knew too how to dress possessing 
more than anyone dsc the gift of adapting the fashions 
to suit hersdf and of designing the modt piquant and 
suggestive negligees Every evening she rc'drcsscd her 
38 




3a 








MADAME DE MAILLY 


hair for bed and decked herself out m all her diamonds. 
In the morning, too, she was especially fascmatmg with 
her beautiful black hair uncurled, but enhanced by the 
fire of the diamonds enarchng her broad, high forehead 
Unfortunately, her arms and bosom were ugly; her 
legs, too thm and too long, gave her a somewhat 
masculine walk 

But Madame de MaiUy made up for these physical 
imperfections by innumerable quahties She was 
V-ery witty, and even more affectionate Her devotion 
to her fnends knew no bounds She was always ready 
to sacrifice herself on their behalf. A firm friend, a 
passionate and smcere mistress, her good temper was 
unvarymg, and her greatest pleasure was to amuse her 
company At the supper-parties none knew better 
than she how to create a cheery atmosphere m the salo7is 
or at table A charmmg and captivatmg toper, she 
excelled at the nocturnal entertainments where, unlike 
Mademoiselle de Charolais, for example, she never 
allowed herself to shme at the expense of others She 
was always generous and sympathetic ; even pleasure, 
of which she was an ardent devotee, was powerless to 
hold her back if another’s welfare was m question 
She was, besides, totally unambitious and dismterested 
She wanted nothmg but the love of Louis XV, whom 
she adored with all the strength of her passionate 
nature But it was her very quahties which one 
day were to estrange the Kmg, for, since she was 
incapable of anything resemblmg capnce, he 'ended 
by finding her dull Meanwhile,, he was grateful 
for her adoration, for her readiness to share his 
love, and for her disinterestedness He was grateful 
to her also for havmg a certain fear of Fleuiy and for 

39 


THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

not causing anyone tmeasmess, so modest were her 
style arvd pretensions 

It was not nntil the beginning of 1738 that the Court 
learnt for certain Madame de Mailly s relations with 
the King One evening as the young woman stole 
secretly through the private apartments at Versailles 
to spend the night there that great and unportant 
personage Pran(^is-Gabnel Bacheher the vdUi as it 
were by accident knocked off the hood which concealed 
the favourite s face As a matter of fact Bicheher 
wanted to get the lady mto his power bv making her 
position pubhc and definite. To this end he contnved 
that two ladies who like Madame de Majlly were 
attached to the Queen 3 smte should see end recoguirc 
the favounte at the moment when she was hoodless 
The stratagem succeeded and the day following the 
adventure the two ladies who had recc^piired Madame 
de Madly spread the news throughout the Court After 
this decisive step Louis XV no longer hesitated to 
acknowledge the truth with regard to iladame de 
Madly This important determination marks the 
complete nature between Loms XV’s old and new life. 
From this day as long as he enjoyed good health he 
never thou^t of teturmng to a regular hfe. 

The King at the time avaded himself of the facilities 
afforded by the new situation to go openly on the 14th 
of July 1738 and sup with Madame de Madly at 
Corapi^gne This was so to speak pubhely to declare 
his passion And he did not repent it dther for ne\*cr 
had Madame de Madly been more amusing nor more 
fascinating She was now ready to Introduce her 
meny makmgs into the private apartments of the Royal 
castles at Versailles, Choisy and La Muettc She drew 

40 



MADAME DE MAILLY 


there all those who had taken part in the festivities at 
Madrid and Rambomllet, and made pleasure very much 
at home in smgmg the praises of Bacchus and Venus 
Moutier, whom Loms had lured at an exorbitant pnce 
from Monsieur de Nevers, almost at the same time that 
Madame de Madly became favourite, served dishes at 
these suppers as choice as they were highly seasoned, 

which stimulated both the appetite and the desire for 

/ 

wme One enjoyed* oneself at the Kmg's parties as 
unrestramedly and as wddly as at those of Mademoiselle 
de Charolais 

But occasionally Madame de Madly would appear 
at the entertainment with red eyes This is accounted 
for by the fact that very early Loms, forgetful of the 
devotion of this dismterested woman who had nothmg 
but debts and preferred no requests, made her suffer 
so that he might be revenged for the humihations 
inflicted on his amour-propre by derogatory remarks 
concemmg his mistress's beauty The Court, the 
satuists, and her husband also, made merry at his 
expense. People said that the lady was exceedingly 

dark, not very young, nor veiy pretty A certam 

\ 

Monsieur de Luc, when writing to Madame de Madly 
to ask her to get a situation for one of his men, ended 
his letter with these words “ It needs but one word 
from the beautiful mouth of a lovely lady like yourself 
and the busmess is done ” The King, havmg read the 
letter, ejaculated ' “A beautifid mouth, mdeed I 
scarcely think you can plume yourself on that ! ” 

The Bung’s state of mind caused Madame de Madly 
to be jealous of all the pretty women who approached 
the monarch, even of the Duchesse d’ Antm, the daughter- 
in-law of the Comtesse de Toulouse. It soured her 

41 



THREE LADIES AT SUPPER 

too so much so that one day when Loms was watching 
her lose at cards she remarked m bitter and aggressive 
tones ' It IS not to be wondered at, with you here ’ 
Another day, when the King threatened to tell Fleniy 
some thin g she rephed WU yon never get nd of thi s 
bad habit ? 

And yet the poor woman was good very good, and 
very aSechonate she had to snfier not only Ixrais XV s 
contempt and indirect reproaches but the anno3rance 
of obscure nvals of her own sisters even the loveliest 
6 i whom succeeded in ousting her from Court * 

So of our three ladies at supper, Madame de ^TaiUy, 
who was the most affectionate and the least selfish got 
nothing but bitterness and disappointment from her 
pleasures Mademoiselle de Charolau the wildest 
fell out with the Comtesse de Toulouse after the death 
of the Count in 1737 but none the less continued until 
the end to denve the most hilarious enjoyment from her 
life of pleasure She died on the 8th of Apnl 1758 at 
the age of sixty three almost entirely unacquamted 
with sorrow and completely unrepentant The Comtesse 
de Toulouse was able to take advantage of her relation 
ship to and fnendship with Loms to procure for the Due 
de Penthiftvre, her sou the reversion of all his father s 
offices and to effect the recall from exile of the Due 
d Antra, her eldest son by her first marriage who had 
compromised himself in a plot against Fleuiy She 
even retamed at Court the entire suite of rooms which 
had been occupied by her husband, the Pnnee A 
faithful fnend to Madame de MoUlj 1^ 
succoured her m distress helped her to fight her 
troubles and to seek in religion her supremo consolation. 

> Ser the chapter oa TU VtttJum i4 CiAit*ur«mt 



THE ^ , 

DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

As soon as Mane Leczmska’s clumsy interference on 
behalf of the Duke of Bourbon and Madame de Pne^ 
had jeopardized the warm love which the young Loms 
XV had at first vowed to his twenty-two-year old Queen, 
matters were made much worse by Marie’s mexpenence 
in love, the boredom which her conversation inflicted 
upon the Kmg, Fleury’s advice, feminine influence at 
Court, the courtier's ambitions, Loms' pohtical idleness 
and the mtngues of the subalterns The Kmg soon 
broke away from a Prmcess who could not entertam him 
and for whom he felt only a slight physical attraction. 
In 1732, Mane Leczmska was superceded by the “ Fair 
Unknown ”2 and m 1742, before her very eyes, Loms set 
up another powerful feminine personahty, who soon 
relegated the Queen to the background 
Mane-Anne de Madly de Nesle, who was afterwards 
Duchess of Chateauroux, had mamed on June 19th, 
I 734 > Jean Baptiste Loms, Marqms of Nesle, captain m 
the Royal Etranger Regiment She was left a widow 
on November 23rd, 1740, and came to Court through the 
influence of her sister, Mme. de Mailly, who at the time 
was in high favour with the Kmg Mme de Madly was 
so devoted to her famdy that she was ready to perform 
any service for them. She "was a loving, sincere httle 

^ See chapter on Mane Lecziiisha, p i 
* See chapter on Three Ladies at Supper, p 23 

43 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAXXROUX 

creature with all the qualities of an easy dupe, and she 
was happy to Introduce her sisters at Court for the sole 
reason that it gave them pleasure. As early as 1739 
she came near to losing the Royal favour throng the 
machinations of the wittiest of her sisters, Pauline 
Adelaide Fehat^ de MaiUy, whom Loms XV had mamed 
to the Marquis de Vint tmnip Comte do Luc, nephew of 
the Archhishop of Pans This woman heedless of her 
sister 8 kmdness had done her beat to predpitate the 
favounte s disgrace, and only her sudden death at the 
age of twenty nine (September, 17 4 i) spared that loving 
heart such gnevous agony But Mme, do Maflly was so 
incorrigibly devoted to her own people that this lesson 
taught her nothing , and after the death of Mme- de 
VintmuUe she lavished her family affecbcm on two other 
sisters the Marquise de la Toumelle and Mme. de 
Flavaucourt whom she helped to shine and make 
themselves agreeable at Court 

Yet those on whom she had wasted her kindness were 
by no means as disinterested as she was Mane-Anne de 
Nesle de la Toumelle daughter of a man who had wasted 
his substance on actresses and the capnaous rcqniie- 
ments of Court life and widow of a fortuneless soldier 
sought wealth and power She had urged Mme. de 
Mailly to present her to the King with the sole object 
of supplantmg her, and all the time that she was cajoling 
her sister mto allowing her to share this Court life she 
was counting upon that kind heart and lad. of 
perspicacity to help her to gam her ends She hoped 
too that the King would easily fall a victim to her 
beauty 

And magnificently beautiful she was More than 
tph uttcriy desirable hlhe and graceful and 

44 


common 



I 





DUCHESSE DE CHAtEAUROUX 

so pleadingly dignified, so witty even in tier gestures 
and bearing that her beauty and youthful charm were 
unrivalled But there was nothing grandiose or severe 
in this beauty. It was mutinous, allunng, sparklmg, 
enchanting. Among its rarest and most personal 
charms, were a complexion so white and pure that it 
glowed, two large eyes, blue and bewitching, a child-hke 
smile and the most mobile of expressions, passmg m 
quick transition from passion to mahce, tenderness to 
gaiety, mockery to pity. Add to these charms, a pair 
of bnght red bps, forever dewy and fresh, lovely fair 
hair, a wonderful bosom, always gently heavmg, and 
the art of fascmatmg without effort. Madame de la 
Toumelle’s bnlhant wit never humihated her hsteners, 
for though her shafts were wmged with irony, they were 
hurled so daintily that one forgot the sting It was 
almost as though her wit sprang straight from the 
heart What wonder that such a woman stirred the 
Court’s unagmation as soon as she made her appearance. 

Now, many people thought that Mme. de MaiUy was 
SO- deeply m love with Loms that she could do nothmg 
without aslong his advice and yet the beUicose, restless 
young nobles of France needed the support of the Kmg’s 
mistress if they were to succeed m forcmg Loms into a 
pohtical action which old Fleury, his all-powerful 
mimster, disapproved of and fought with every weapon 
and with all his strength Fleury, thrifty to the pomt 
of stmgmess, mean, stubborn and ignorant of the true 
meanmg of glory, had a passion for peace even at the 
price of national dignity, and the nobles were determined 
to prevent France from bemg humihated One of the 
most active opponents of Fleury’s pohcy was the 
Mar^chal de Richeheu, who had obtamed favourable 

45 



DUCHESSE DE CHXteAUROUX 

terms of peace for France m a treaty of 1729 and later 
m 1733 had distmguiahed himself under ITflrKhal Berwick 
at the sieges of KehJ and Philipsbai^ He, together 
with the Prince de Soubise a personal fnend of I-ouis 
XV, hit upon the notion of using the pre t t y Marquise 
de la Toumelle as a tool for destroying Fleuiy’s influence. 

At the time Richelieu had no idea of the MaxquUe s 
desires and ambitions, and at first he was somewhat 
concerned at the amouroua interest which for several 
months she had been takmg m the Due d Agfoois, one 
of hi3 nephews If Madame de la Toumelle were to 
play the important part for which Richeheu and Soubise 
had cast her, she most be heart whole so the Manrfchal 
made it his business to wean her from the Due d Ag6iois 
The plot which he devised was simple, and such as a 
hero of gallant adventures might well imagine. He sent 
his nephew to Languedoc and arranged that very soon 
after the young man s amval one of the prettiest women 
m the noghbouihood should flatter him with the most 
attentive advances and passionate glances The Due 
resisted these provocative attentions for barely a week. 
Just as ho was tasting the happiness of surrender and 
enjoying the first thnll of his new passion he heard that 
the Marquise de la Toumelle, Indignant at such a 
betrayal now felt nothing hut rancour and bitterness 
for him 

Henceforth the Marquise was free for the part which 
Floury s enemies wished her to play She had already 
taken her place on the stage and through d Argenson s 
influence had persuaded Louis to nominate her os dame 
du points on the death of Madame de Mazann (Scptcra 
ber 20th 1743) At the same time she had managed 
her sister so cleverly and had made others do the same 
46 



DUCHESSE DE CHAtEAUROUX 


that Madame de Madly, partly from faindy feehng, and 
partly because she wanted to please Loms, whom she 
thought desirous of favourmg Mesdames de la Toumelle 
and de Flavaucourt, had written to Cardmal Fleury 
resigning her post as d,ame du palais in favour of her 
sister Madame de Flavaucourt 
When the Cardinal received Madame de Madly’s letter 
he was astounded Through pure altruism or lack of 
perspicacity this woman, whom he had always admired 
for her freedom from pohtical intngue, was dehberately 
aimmg a formidable blow at her own power. It almost 
meant her smcide as favounte and such a step was 
inexplicable to the old mimster. He sent for Madame 
de Madly and gave her the advice of a man whose conduct 
had never been actuated by dismterested motives But 
Madame de Madly was earned away by her devotion 
to her own people and would not listen Maurepas, the 
Mimster of the Navy, whose epigrams were soon to 
persecute the woman wjho took Madame de Mailly's 
place, said to her, “ Madame, you do not know your 
sister, de la Toumelle , when you hand over your of&ce 
to her, you may expect your dismissal from Court ” 
But Madame de Mailly's resolution was not even shaken 
She persisted in her astonishing sacnfice, and on the day 
foUowmg the arrangement, joyfully accompamed her 
sisters to thank the King and Queen for having 
graciously granted her request. 

From that time onwards, Madame de Madly ceased 
to have any ofiSaal position at Court, whde Madame de 
la Toumelle received more flattery and adulation every 
day Loms could never resist a pretty babyish face 

^ QaotGdiTom.La Duchesse dc Ch&teauroux et ses scBurs by Edmond 
a-nd Jules de Goncourt 


47 



DUCHESSE DE CHAtEAUROUX 

and those naughty blue ^es, so child like and capnaous 
troubled his dreams so that he could not even speak 
of them -with ease. He spared neither looks nor atten 
tions to mduce the young "woman to make advances and 
he tried to show how tenderly and fondly and with what 
a loving welcome he would respond. But Madame de 
la Tonmelle was not one of those who give themselves 
easily If Lotos wanted her he must wm her and the 
conquest was going to be difficult. Madame already 
knew her conditions The King could not hope for any 
favour until he bad satisfied her very last desire She 
would want titles and distinctions an mcome which 
would safeguard her future and an assurance that any 
children bom of a lui\s(m between herself and the Kmg 
should be nchly provided for and legitimized. But to 
begin with Louis must take the trouble to make himself 
loved. 

Up to the present the King had merely met women 
who had been only too proud and happy if he had 
condescended to notice them A simple gesture a wish 
eiqircssed and his "suctlms had fallen at his feet Was 
it not to the caprice of this Royal passion that one of 
Louis best bom subjects was to offer a daughter 
writing Sire accept her, I have brought her up to 
be worthy of j-our love The demands made bj the 
Marquise seemed to Louis as cxtraordmaiy as tliej 
were excessive But the Marquise was ■vct> prettj, 
very witty and vcr> amusing and, Tnoreo\Tr the Due 
de Richelieu had made up his mind that she should not 
be long In takmg Madame dc ilaBly a place In the Roj'al 
favour So the Due stimulated the Kmg s admiration 
for Madame de la Toumelle/hclped him to picture the 
jop of intimacy with such a woman the \'aluc of such 

48 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

a conquest and the efforts which it deserved. 
distinctl}^ weary of a mistress whom he had had for fen 
years and who had never been beautiful, 

3uelded to the fascination of Madame de k TourneJie 
and to the desire which Richelieu had rucceedod m 
awaking. He now began to pay court to the Zdareeo'ee. 

But at first the young woman listened to Lo-';;'/ 
declarations with little more than a IdndJy oendeeoen- 
Sion She remained dignified and distant, e%asne;ra;dn'^ 
him by her coldness. The courtiers, v.do Ano'- ad' 
about the King’s advances and the ladsX noan.oe'^'.reo, 
huimned at court and sang in tovm : 


“ Come, come. 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

mtWess upbtaidmgs reproaches and scorn T 
unfortunate mistress swaUowed the insalts listened 
the abuse and snfEered eveiy sort of cruelty mtho 
a word of complaint, fondly behenng that In the end h 
sweetness tenderness and would rega 

the K ipg^s heart She was ready to accept ar 
compromise provided the King would teep her af h 
side Bat Loms was exasperated at this persistent lo^ 
which merely fettered liim and was perhaps the caui 
of the Sferqaise de la Toomelle s perpetual mdifferencc 
for not only was that lady cold to his transports bt 
she had not answered bis impassioned letters He wa 
now sick with love for the Marqnise, and to win her h 
began to make offers and promises 
This time he really seemed to have made som 
impression on his goddess and at last be dared to hop( 
Henceforth his behaviour to Madame de Mailly grei 
more and more crueL Long pauses heavy with threat 
for the poor woman hovered over all their meal 
together and when the Kmg suddenly broke the silence 
Madame de Mailiy was so unnerved that she burs 
into tears If the King's expression softened at thew 
tears the adoring favourite would hope onco more 
and struggle to recapture the passion which had fled 
As for Louis he could talk to her of nothing hut his love 
for Madame de Ja Toumellc his hope that this love mlgbi 

be returned and his desire to remove onj obstacle which 

might withhold it from him This being so 3/fldamed^ 
Mailly had better malm up her mind to go mid the 
sooner she left the Court the better These words wvre 
always more than Madame de ifaill} could bear and she 
would grop'd at the King's feet implonnghlm to grant 
her a few more days, Idssing the hem ol Ids garroenU, 


DUCHESSE DE CHAtEAUROUX 


and clinging to him m a frenzy of love and despair 
Convulsed by passion and gnef she looked so piteous 
that Louis, wear)^ of tlie whole painful busmess, would 
grant a few days reprieve, but at each repetition of the 
scene he accumulated a little more spite agamst this 
woman, who infunated him because he had not enough 
energy to dismiss her on the spot. 

Madame de la Toumelle had by this time promised 
to comply with Louis’ wishes, for he was prepared to 
grant her all the splendour of a recognized favourite, 
namely a house as sumptuous as Madame de Montespan’s 
had been, an establishment where she could entertain 
the King right royall}'’ , the power of cashmg the King’s 
notes at the Treasur3'' , the title of duchess ; the 
guarantees, which she had named, in respect of the 
children bom of the union ; and any such recognition 
as she might desire. But the first proof of love which 
the Marquise demanded was the immediate dismissal 
of Madame de MaiUy. 

On November 2nd, 1742, the furniture was removed 
from Madame de MaiUy’s rooms, which were next to the 
Kmg’s apartments, on the pretext that m future they 
were to be occupied by Madame de Flavaucourt, who was 
to sleep there that very night At this decision, the 
wretched woman was beside herself, but suffering 
seemed to mspire her and she managed to speak to Louis 
durmg supper, so touchmgly and with such appeal, that 
he countermanded his orders and allowed the poor 
distracted creature to sleep for one more night m her 
own room The next day Madame de MaiUy refused to 
recognize that Louis had only postponed her dismissal 
for one mght 

Meanwhile, her sister’s procrastmation was beginnmg 

51 


DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

to get on the Marquise de la Toumelle 3 nerves The 
nobles too were impatient to celebrate the promotion 
of their chosen favourite so the Due de Richelieu 
undertook to speed the parting guest He sought 
Madame de Mailly and spoke to her in very s tro ng 
terms of the respect which she owed to her own dlgmty 
in the presence of a Kmg who was discarding her, and 
whom duty obliged her to renounce And Madame de 
Madly vowed that even if death were the result she 
would give up the King Richeheu had no sooner 
heard these welcome words than he rushed to report them 
to Loms XV, announcing that m view of the good news, 
he had managed to secure a promise from the Marquise 
de la Toumelle that she would meet the King that very 
night provided the rendetoom were kept a secret and 
Louis were accompanied by the Due de Richeheu That 
was why the Ktug went late that night to the Due de 
Richelieu s house where he disguised himself Later 
both men m fancy dress visited the Marquise 

But Madame de Mailly was still at Versailles She 
now loved even the most trifling thing connected with 
the Kmg, and leaving the palace seemed to her worse 
than death She could bear the King s indiflerence 
and scorn more easily than the wrench of separation 
which she could not bring herself to face The Due de 
Richelieu was obliged to return to Flanders ^^thout 
seeing the complete success of his mtervcntlon, and the 
fa^^ Marquise was enraged the King s patience \rtth 
his former favourite Ail Madame dcMaiUj s associates 
despite her mvariable Idndneis were longing for her to 

leave the Court and at last the time came when she could 

no longer delay her departure Yet on that ver> da> 
she managed to get the Kbg to grant her the fai-our of 

3 * 



DUCHESSE_ DE CHAtEAUROUX 

one last intimate dmner. At the close of the evenmg, 
she left the room " with heavmg bosom and eyes full 
of tears, almost mad with gnef The Kmg came after 
her, trymg to comfort her before he let her go Once 
agam he spoke to her m those sweet tones which used to 
charm her ears, but smce this concession to his victim’s 
gnef proved meffectual he whispered softly, “ Till 
Monday It was Saturday The unexpected words 
were so radiant ivith hope, that they illummed the 
forty-eight hours which stood between Madame de 
MaiUy and the reunion for which she longed, however 
short it might be This comfortmg thought gave her 
courage to step resignedly mto the carnage which her 
friend, the Comtesse de Toulouse had sent for her, and 
to allow herself to be taken, without a moan, to the 
rooms which the devoted Countess had prepared for her 
m her own mansion 

In the meantime, at Versailles Madame de la Toumelle 
had heard of the kmg's last act of kmdness to her sister, 
and she gave free vent to her displeasure She forth- 
with demanded that Louis should withdraw the promise, 
which he had made So long as the Kmg aspired to 
Madame de la ToumeUe's favour, Madame de MaiUy 
was not to return to Court. The fact that the new 
favounte had been seriously disturbed by her sister’s 
procrastmation is proved by a letter which she wrote 
two or three days after Madame de MaiUy’s departure 
to the Due de Richelieu, whom she affectionately called 
“ uncle ” although he was m no way related to her 
“ Meuse has surely told you, uncle, of the trouble 
which I had m gettmg Madame de Madly to budge ” 
[November 1742 y 

^ Autographs from the collection of M A Martin 

53 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

In this same ictfer ifedame de la Tounielle com- 
plained that she could do nothing so long as Cardinal 
Flenry lived No other document affords a bettor study 
of this heartless ambitious woman who was never 
moved by land or disinterested impulses and so belied 
the eiquisite promise of her bewitching charm It 
shows all the self-assurance and impudence of this 
Avoman with whom success was everything who had all 
the cynicism of her own mgratitude and greed and 
whose calcnlationa and reasoning were tcmfying in their 
callousness 

Now that she was sure of being recognised as favourite 
and of dominating the King s will, the Marquise de la 
Toumelle sought to exasperate Louis desire by delaying 
its fulfilment She sought to make a dooJe, scndle 
lover of the Kmg by constantly putting off until the next 
day the rcallration of the promise made the day before, 
and so it was that she did not give him complete 
satisfaction until December 19th after which date she 
ostentatiously ihowed herself at the opera so that Louis 
choice might be approved loathe public On December 
22nd she took possession of the favx)unte s apartments 
and on January 19th 1742, gambling for the rank of 
duchess, she played her first card by deveriy arranging 
a match between MaderaoiscDe de ilonciavel, her most 
devoted sister and the Due de Laumguois In order 
to give the bride a dowry the King decreed a sixty year* 
extension of the tax Imposed upon the JtVit of Afetr 
and offered in addition an appointment, on marriage os 
dame du paJats to the Dauphine at a lalai^ ol two 
thousand francs a yezr over and abo\'c the slx thousand 
five hundred francs which were his annual allowance to 
the demoiselles dc Neslc 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 


Even more important than this marriage was the 
death of Fleury, which occurred on January 29th, 
1743 The late Cardmal’s power now passed into the 
hands of the favourite and changed the whole course 
of her life 

Now that Louis XV was no longer subjected to the 
restrainmg influence of his former tutor, he could yield 
unreservedly to the demands of love He could now be 
seen sitting at the same table as the favourite, drafting 
with her help letters to the Due de Richelieu ; curtail- 
mg his councils so as to give more time to love ; 
attendmg his mistress’s baths and sittmg at her bedside 
while she was recovering from the fatigue of bathmg , 
acceptmg nothmg more than a place among those who 
formed her little court, passionately beggmg to be 
allowed to sup m her room, and overwhelmed with 
sorrow if she refused to share the Royal dinners 

But exacting as she was, the charmmg Marquise was 
a bom diplomatist She had the supreme cleverness 
never to question Louis on affairs of State and so the 
infatuated Kmg was convmced that his pretty mistress 
took no mterest in politics The voluptuous non- 
chalance of her mtimacy with him confirmed this 
opmion The consequence was that he spoke with her 
of State affairs without apprehension, and even went 
so far as to consult her, nay, beg her to be so kmd as 
to give him advice In this way she slipped into the 
government at the Kmg’s request, without his bemg 
aware of it. Soon her gift of guessmg the Monarch's 
likes and dislikes added considerably to her political 
mfluence She spoke m favour of the men whom Louis 
XV liked, such as Om, d'Argenson, and the Noailles 
in spite of their friendship for Madame de Mailly, until 

55 



DUCHESSE DE CHAtEAUROUX 

the King i m agined that she was voicing his own ideas 
and grew accustomed to thmVrng tliat his mistress $ 
opinion was his own But the Marquise could not 
deceive Manrepas the mmisterwho had so nghtly judged 
her ambition from the very first days of Mme deMailly’s 
sacrifice He and hi^ fnends never ceased from attack 
mg her in those little rhymes which the revolutionaries 
were to call les hUuetus de la Uherii, because they were 
the first verses which taught the French people not to 
respect the King and his fnends 

Nevertheless, Maurepas attacks did not prevent 
Louis from seiring the opportunity of a journey to 
Fontamebleau to estalfiish Madame de la Toumelle s 
household, in the middle of September 1743 or from 
makmg her Duchesse de Cb&teauroox at the end of 
October m the same year At that time too, Richelieu 
was appomted first gentleman of the Bed Chamber and 
the Parisians nicknamed him the President of La 
Toumelle * 

The Duchy of Chftteauroux represented an annual 
income of eighty five thousand ftancs and the new 
duchess would enjoy the same rights as the fifor^aJe 
de Duras, the Duchesse dAiguiUon the Duchesse 
d Ag&ois and the Duchesse de Lauraguois She was 
presented on October 22nd 1743, hut as early os the 
previous April the future Duchess bad reoiganiicd the 
society In the King's private apartments, or cabttifis 
as they were called She had made a pomt of intro- 
ducing on clement of amusement and gaietj Before 
very long every guest bad a nickname She herself 
was known os " the princess" her sister, Madame de 


* AttliiJUnwlAToamtllfWWnotoolTtbeOMif erftMMirq^ 

!toroM<i*tb*FjwbUwe«rt»err«wtkh*pr«W«t 

5 ® 



Alt. VU 



MARQUISE DE FLAVACOURT 

Fourth daughter of the Marquis and Marquise de Nesle 
Bom 1716 

Print after !^atlier'i portrait 




DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

Flavaucourt, was ** the hen ”, and the Duchesse de 
Lauraguais the “ Street of Evil Words ”, Indeed, of 
the three de Nesle sisters who were at Court, the Duchesse 
de Lauraguais was the most darmg m sallies and the 
most entertainmg in conversation. She it was who had 
amused Loms by producing nicknames for his guests 
durmg'a supper She called d’Argenson ” the sucking 
calf ”, Monsieur de Florentin ” the sucking pig ”, 
Monsieur de Maurepas ” the spinning-cat ”, and 
Cardmal de Tencm ” the ostrich ” , and many others 
had names which were equally picturesque. The 
Duchesse de Chateauroux had been not a little vexed 
at discovering so much wit in her sister, and any slight 
feehng of love which she may have had for Louis must 
be attnbuted to that jealousy which the Duchesse de 
Lauraguais, for all her ugliness, aroused in her. 

Meanwhile, the time for mere pleasure and intngue 
was past. Richelieu, Soubise and their friends wished 
to act and to make the King act. It was time that the 
Duchesse de Chateauroux should rouse him from his 
political indifference and physical apathy. It is said 
that Madame de Tencm origmated the idea, which she 
cornmumcated to Richeheu, of makmg Louis place 
himself at the head of his armies so as to give him 
prestige in the eyes of neighbounng nations and his own 
compatriots If this be true, one can at least assert 
that Without the Duchesse de Chateauroux such a plan 
could never have been earned out. If it meant the loss 
of that luxuriously voluptuous life, which she had 
created, it meant, too, a glorious satisfaction for her 
overweening pride, the culmination of her ambition, the 
superb joy of becoming a herome The Duchess made 
every effort to awaken the King’s proper pnde, to give 



DUCHESSE DE CHAteAUROUX 

him a sense of responsibility and to convince him that 
he owed it to him self to become a great king ‘ You 
are fallin g me, cried Louis, appalled at her reproaches 

Sire was the noble energetic answer, ' a King must 
come to life again ( ^ The Duchess already saw herself 
nding beside the King tmanphant through her advice 
the refrains of those verses which Maorepas and 
her other enemies had hurled against her drowned 
by the enthusiastic te d e arns ^ of victory She 
rehearsed to the King the applause with which his 
people would greet him if he Vt«re to fight for them, 
the adoration and devotion of his own countrymen 
and the anger of his enemies And Louis ahvaj's 
fasemated by the dazzling young Duchess, allowed 
himself to be convmced did as she asked and took 
command of the army 

This year 1744 saw the Dachesse de Chdteauroux at 
the zenith of her populanty and glory but it was also 
the period of her imsfortime In April Louis made the 
Duchess Supenntendent of the Household to the 
Dauphlne and inspired by her left for the scat of war 
Before very long the Duchesa began to play an active 
part m the events of the day conducting intcrv’ievrs 
deciding alliances and receiving in person the thanks of 
Frederick of Prussia. Very soon too she joined the 
King who was with his army at Dunkerque and shared 
the ovations which he received The rcahty must bai 0 
surpassed her most ambitious dreams 

But in the full tide of her happiness when her 
tnumi^i was at its height a cry of alarm filled the 
Duchess s heart with fear The King was iU at Metz 
very ill Ho was stricken on August 8th and forthnfth 

* Prafmnt Irom Let Mimoirtt *0 VAJjme de 

58 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

the stem catholic principles which had been instilled 
by the late Cardinal filled his soul with terror If he 
were going to die, Louis desired to make his peace with 
God He wanted to be with his Queen, to ask her 
pardon for his desertion, to renounce his guilty love 
Mane Leczmska, called m haste, sped to her husband’s 
side, full of concern for the salvation of his soul, while 
the Duchess de Chateauroux and the Duchesse de 
Lauraguais received official orders to depart immediately 
The Due de Richeheu sought to protect the two women, 
but an mfunated crowd tned to stone them Their 
coach was received with a storm of stones, and it was 
with the greatest of difficulty that the woman who had 
but lately been so tnumphantly acclaimed now escaped 
from a homble death 

She who had thought that her greatness was bmlt 
upon sohd foundations now shook with rage and mahee 
far from the Court Sometimes she wondered whether 
it had not all been a temble mghtmare and she dreamed 
of vengeance, repnsals But the Kmg recovered and 
with his fear of death he lost his terror of hell. The 
Queen had been devoted but unlovmg, so Loms turned 
his thoughts to the Duchess Her beauty called him. 
He was intoxicated by the memory of past dehghts. 
He longed to return to his fair lady, to the happy life 
which had bewitched him On the mght of November 
14th, he had an mterview with her The moment when 
he left her was the most sorrowful of all his life After 
the 25th of the month, Maurepas himself was obhged 
to recall the Duchess to Versculles How she triumphed 
and rejoiced at her reinstatement, what vengeance she 
planned for her enemies * 

But while the first impressions of her arrival had not 

59 



DUCHESSE DE CHAtEAUROUX 


yet passed away she was seized with a sharp, violent 
pam which was utterly mexphcable. It tortured her 
and people fear^ for her life On November 28th she 
was slightly better but at the close of December ist 
terrible convulsive pains shooV her frame and she was 
prostrated. She became wildly dehnons and nothing 
could qmet her On December 8th she died after 
atroaoussufienng convincedthatshehadbeen poisoned 
On December 13th at six o clock in the morning 
without ceremony she was buned at Pans in the churdb 
of St Sulpice. 

Thus she disappeared at the age of twenty-seven — a 
woman beautiful and ambitions, gifted and full of 
hopes the only being who ever succeeded in giving 
Loins XV the appearance of a great king for at least 
one day 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


Madame Geoffrin is celebtated through her salon, and 
it IS chiefly in and in relation to her salon that we shall 
stud}'’ her. 

Mane Th^rdse Rodet, daughter of L. Rodet, a valet- 
de-cliamhre to the Dauphine Marie Jos^phe de Saxe, and 
of Madame Rodet, itde Chemmeau, whose father was a 
banker m the quartier St Honord in Paris, was bom in 
that city on June 2nd, 1699 She was very early 
orphaned, and was brought up by her maternal grand- 
mother, Madame Chemineau This woman, who was 
gifted with much commonsense and real mtelligence, 
preferred her grand-daughter to leam to thmk, to 
discnmmate, and to form opmioiis for herself rather than 
to imbibe a vast amount of book knowledge. So Mane 
Th^r^e learnt very little from books and a great deal 
from her own observation. 

On July 19th, 1713, she married, at the age of 
fourteen, PieiTe-Fran9ois Geoflfrm, a rich tradesman of 
forty-flve and a widower of less than a year, who for 
several months had observed the little girl at the Church 
of Saint Roch. He was struck by her thoughtful, 
sensible face, beneath its smooth cap of spotless white 
The disparity between their ages does not seem to have 
troubled Madame Geoffrin m the least She was a very 
wise, very obedient and very economical young wife, 
whom for many years Monsieur Geoffrin could not 
praise enough for her domestic nature and modest tastes 

61 



DUCHESSE DE CHATEAUROUX 

vet passed away she was seized with a ahaip violenf 
pain which was ntteiiy inexphcahle. It tortnred her 
and people feai^ for her life. On November a8th she 
was sbghtly better but at the close of December ist 
temble convulsive pairm shooh her frame and she was 
prostrated She became wildly delirious and nothing 
could quiet her On December 8th she died after 
atroaous suffering convmced that shehadbeen poisoned 
On December 13th at six o clock m the morning 
without ceremony ahc was buned at Paris m the church 
of Sh Sulpice 

Thus she disappeared at the age of twenty'Seven — a 
woman, beauUfnl and ambitions, gifted and full of 
hopes the only being who ever succeeded in giving 
Loma XV the appearance of a great king for at least 
one day 


60 




WADAME GEOFFRIN 

despite the rapid growth of their forftme, due to Konsieur 
Geoffnns speculations m the manufacture of Samt- 
Gobam glass Madame Geoffnn presented her husband 
with two children a girl and a boy, who unfortunately 
died, to the great gnef of the household 
If, during the first years of her marriage Madame 
Geofirin had no desire to go into society, it was not 
because she lacked the qualities necessary to shme 
there We have a portrait of her at this penod by 
Nattier who depicts her as superWy handsome stately, 
with a majestic carriage a danlmg complexion 
magnificent hair and sparkling, almost piercing eyes 
Her whole appearance is that of a woman who could 
not pass unnoticed Botsheeverreroainedacomplete 

stranger to coquetry in all its forms She never resorted 
to art to enhance her beauty She was probably the 
only rich woman of her day who never rouged and 
whose conduct was always and in every respect, 
irreproachaUe Gnmm sold of her Women always 
dress behind the times Madame Geoffrin alone 
dresses ahead of them The snnpHaty and sc\*crit} 
of her dress were indeed striking at all periods of her 
life She certainly had not reached middle-age when 
she was employing the boot maker about whom she 
wrote m her notebook To be kept raakcj ifr) 
comfortable and serviceable shoes ’ 

Madame Geoffrin had passed her fortieth jxar before 
she manifested on ambition to pla} a idle fn F^nswn 
society and through it in the world at large The 
moment was particularlj well chosen The Encjxlo- 
poedists and their friends the philosophers weroolrcad) 
formed mto a sodelv which had os jtt no fixed centre 
They met at one or two salons, at 5fadame de Tendn * 

63 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


and at that of the wife of the Fanner General de la 
Popehnifere , but they were not all invited to these 
houses, and, moreover, these salons were only partially 
smted to their discussions Madame de Tencm’s life 
had been so mixed up with pohtics and mtngues that 
even now, when an old woman, philosophy and social 
economy scarcely satisfied her active mmd. As to 
pretty Madame de la Popelmi^re, who had left the stage 
to marry a fortune, she was far more mterested m the 
Due de Richelieu’s declarations of love than in 
philosophical discussions Thus the salon of the 
Encyclopaedists and philosophers was not yet in 
existence 

Why should not Madame Geoffrm create this salon ? 
.The immense fortune which her husband had by now 
amassed made it possible, and her tastes drew her m 
this direction Her good sense told her that a salon, 
where all these thinkers on topical questions met, would 
at once attract general attention and gam mstant fame 
Up till now the ambitious pnde of the successful 
bourgeoise had been clothed m humility because she 
preferred to be nothing if not first, but now she suddenly 
saw a unique opportunity to push herself to the front 
Will was Madame Geoffrm ’s dommant quality Accord- 
mg to the Marquis de S^gur it gave her her mdividuality 
while she herself said, “ Will transcends all other virtues, 
■without it they would be -wrecked ” It was this "will 
which made the ambitious dream of the manufacturer’s 
wife and the daughter of the Dauphme’s valet-de-chamhre 
a possibility 

By force of \vill, tact, patience, discretion, judgment, 
and the power to command, Madame Geoffrin was to 
become the most important woman m Pans and the 

63 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


despite the rapid growtTi of thar fortune due to Monsieur 
Geofinn s speculations m the manufacture of Saint* 
Gobam glass Madame Geoffnn presented her husband 
with two children a girl and a boy who unfortunately 
died, to the great gnef of the household. 

If during the first 5reai3 of her mamagc Madame 
Geofinn had no desire to go into society it was not 
because she lacked the qualities necessary to shine 
there We have a portrait of her at this period by 
Nattier, who depicts her as superbly handsome stately, 
with a majestic carnage a daTrling complexion 
magnificent hair and sparkling almost perong eyes 
Her whole appearance is that of a woman who could 
not pass unnoticed But she ever remained a complete 
stranger to coquetry mall Its forms She never resorted 
to art to enhance her beauty She was probably the 
only nch woman of her day who never rouged and 
whose conduct was always, and in every respect, 
irreproachable Gnmm said of her Women always 
dress behind the times Madame Geofinn alone 
dresses ahead of them The simplicity and severitj 
of her dress were mdeed striking at all penods of her 
life She certainly had not reached iniddle*age when 
she was employing the boot maker about whom fh® 
wrote in her notebook To be kept makes I'erj 
comfortable and serviceable shoe* ” 

Madame Geofirin had passed her fortieth j*car before 
she manifested an ambition to play a idle in Parisian 
society and, through it in the wurid at large The 
moment was particularly well chosen The Encjxlo- 
paedists and theu" fnends the phflosophers were aireadj 
formed into a society which had as yet no fixed centre 
They met at one or two salons at Madame dc Tencin * 

6z 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


and at that of the wife of the Farmer General de la 
Popehni^re , but the}^ were not all invited to these 
houses, and, moreover, these salons were onl}’' partially 
suited to their discussions. Madame de Tencm’s life 
had been so mixed up with politics and mtngues that 
even now, when an old woman, philosophy and social 
economy scarcely satisfied her active mind As to 
pretty Madame de la Popelini^re, who had left the stage 
to marrj?- a fortune, she was far more mterested in the 
Due de Richelieu’s declarations of love than in 
philosophical discussions. Thus the salon of the 
Encyclopaedists and philosophers was not yet in 
existence 

^Vhy should not Madame Geoffrin create this salon ? 
.The immense fortune which her husband had by now 
amassed made it possible, and her tastes drew her in 
this direction Her good sense told her that a salon, 
where all these thinkers on topical questions met, would 
at once attract general attention and gam instant fame. 
Up till now the ambitious pride of the successful 
bourgeoise had been clothed m humility because she 
preferred to benothmg if not first, but now she suddenly 
saw a umque opportunity to push herself to the front 
Will was Madame Geoff rm’s dommant quality Accord- 
mg to the Marquis de Segur it gave her her mdividuality 
while she herself said, “ Will transcends all other virtues, 
without it they would be wrecked ”. It was this will 
which made the ambitious dream of the manufacturer’s 
wife and the daughter of the Dauphme’s valet-de-chamhre 
a possibility 

By force of wiU, tact, patience, discretion, judgment, 
and the power to command, Madame Geoffrm was to 
become the most important woman m Paris and the 

63 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


French oracle to the foreigner She began by obtanung 
an introduction to Madame de Tencm and ( 3 e 

la Popelimfere At the fonnershouae she merely made 
herself agreeable, but at the latter's she sought to form 
friendships Soon, to Madame de la Popelmifae's great 
displeasure Madame Geoffnn issued invitations to the 
habitufe of ih^fermiheginirale s salon with whom she 
had established friendly relations The mvitations 
were eagerly accepted and the guests were delighted with 
their receptiorL 

The dream took shape Monsieur Geoffrm was 
dumbfounded Who would have thought that the 
submissive simple wife to whom he had been married 
for twenty-five years would suddenly be selred with 
the mad and mmous idea of runmng a ' burMtt d" 
espnt ? The husband expostulated, lost his temper 
the house was like a bttle hell during the first few months 
of Madame GeofErm s receptions But finally Monsieur 
Gcoffrin vanquished 1 ^ his wife 5 mdomifaWc wfl? 
protested only by bis sflenco and the real with which 
he arranged the best menus with the greatest cconomj 
Indeed as long as he lived he was sole comptroller of 
his household not allowing anj^ne else to draw up 
the menus to order provisions to fix the expenditure 
or to carve at table 

Madame Geoffnn began her life as a salonitre with 
a soda! revolution Until she appeared dinner 
mvitations had onl> been Issued for the e\mlng 
But Madame Geoffrin 5 first in\atations were for dinner 
at an afternoon hour In this way she contrived long 
hours of talk for herself and her friends without shorten 
ing the hours of sleep It was the first display ol that 
admirable balance by which all her actions «vre 

64 



late VI ii 



MARIE-THERESn RODET 

Wife of Pierre Frincou Gcoffrm Born June 1699 died October 1777 
Print after portrait of f^Codomc (jcoffrin 


[face p 64 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


controlled. The guests were delighted with the 
innovation, and as soon as Madame de Tencin died, at 
the beginning of 1749, the migration to Madame 
Geoffnn was accomplished Her salon became the 
stronghold of liberal thought, the ideal meetmg- 
place of all who hated the Jesuits and hungered 
after emancipation. It was from her house that 
were hurled the darts directed agamst ministers 
and the satires on the clergy, and whence emanated 
all the stmgmg witticisms which Europe repeated 
after France 

The place where all these combative guests and deep 
thmkers met was situated in the Rue Saint Honors, on 
the spot occupied to-day by No 372, which is partly 
constructed from the remains of Madame Geoffrm's 
house Its luxury was sober but solid and very com- 
fortable There was nothing ostentatious or trashy 
m the decorations, but there were many very valuable 
works of art. In the large salon were some superb 
Beauvais tapestries and beautiful canvasses by the 
hands of masters, which multiplied m exact ratio 
to Madame Geoffrm's artistic fnendships. All the 
furniture was antique, very artistic, and, above all, 
very comfortable In this mhieu, which was char- 
actenzed by a simple elegance and a perfect, though 
austere taste, the dress of the lady of the house 
appeared even plamer than her surroundmgs She 
wore only dark colodrs and her clothes were severe m 
cut The only light pomts about her dress were 
coUars and cuffs of the whitest and finest Imen, but 
always qmte plam Very early she partly concealed 
her silvery-white hair under a black silk cap, tied 
beneath her chm. 


65 


6 



MADAME GEOFFRm 

Chardm who painted her portrait m 1758 depicts 
her m this costume which she had already aff^ed 
for several years Chardin s portrait is very difierent 
from that of Nattier The fcatnres are heavier and the 
lips t hi n n er compressed perhaps from having let fly 
those pointed witticUm* those terse epigrams which 
at once charmed and startled the habitufe of her 
saloDu The eyes are unchanged but an ironical expres- 
sion has spread over the whole face Her figure, 
stately and erect, is handsome and graceful her 
whole appearance is dignified and thoughtful 
Madame Geoffria gives a strong impression of the 
power which she eicndsed overall her friends, and the 
influence which she had on her contempomnes To 
them she represented the law of good taste 
Soon Madame GeofErins fnends divided mto two 
large and distinct groups the artists, and the wnters 
and thinkers Every Monday she received the artists at 
her table Wednesday tvas the day for the thinkers 
and writers — this was the big day The fare sensed 
at her table was delicious but unpretentious like her 
furniture and her dress It was excellent plam cooloug 
everything being French in character and liome 
grown The con'v'eraation at these dinners was c^*tn 
more French than the cooking Bfadame Gcoffnn 
led it with zncomparablc tact judgment and nuthont> 
That will do now ' she was wont to sa> when she 
wanted to stop a can%’er 5 ation which she thought 
was going too far This phrase ncN'cr failed of H' 
effect Madame Geoffnn was bom to rule 

One could not associate with her without becoming 
aware of this Horace Walpole wliom she rccriivd 
at her salon with the rest of the foreign nofabiUtirs 
66 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


passing through Pans, was so struck with her power of 
organization and her gift for ruling that he wrote to 
Lady Her^’-e}'^ * " If it were worth her while I assure 
your lad3^ship she might govern me like a child 

Madame Geoifrm did not veil her remarks when she 
had occasion to show disapproval. " Monsieur le 
Comte ”, she said, in her clear curt tones to the 
Comte de Coignj’’, who, at a dinner to which she had 
mvited him, told a long stupid story, and who used a 
pocket knife to cut up the fowl which had been placed 
before him m order to keep him quiet, ” Monsieur le 
Comte, if you want to get on m this place large loiives 
and short stories are essential ” Agam, it was at 
Madame Geoffrm’s house, and beneath her glance of 
approval, that someone declared that Boucher who 
pamted Venus and the Virgin from theatncal goddesses 
” had never seen the Graces m good society ” 

All the great artists of the day were Madame 
Geoffnn’s fnends and under obligations to her the 
two Vanloos, Boucher, Vemet, Lagren^e, SoufiSot, 
de la Tour, the pastellist, and how many more besides l 
As soon as fresh talent was revealed it had its place at 
the Monday dinners Thus Pigalli was mvited to 
Madame Geoifrm’s directly the Marshal of Saxony’s 
mausoleum had made him famous She gave orders to 
all and did them many a good turn On Carl Vanloo’s 
death his widow found herself m financial difficulties. 
When she heard this, Madame Geoffrm immediately 
put up to auction the numerous and superb pictures 
by Vanloo m her possession for the benefit of his 
widow The sale realized a very large sum, which 


* Horace Walpole’s Letters 
GeQtleman’s Library) 

1 


Vol. IV, p 

67 


420 mohn’s Ensrlish 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 

she hastened to offer to the widow, afterwards bnymg 
back at the higher price bid for them the masterpieces 
which she had just sold 

Ma dam e Geoffrm treated the thmkers and philoso- 
phers With the same kmdness and liberality as the 
artists The thmkers of this epoch d'Alembert, 
Marivaux MorcDet Fontenelle ChasteHux Mairan 
Helv^tius, Raynal Saint-lambert Gnmm d Holbach 
Mannontel not only throned around her, but often, 
entirely thanks to her triumphed over serious diffi- 
culties She sheltered several under her roof and acted 
the part of a mother to them no doubt she scolded 
at times but she was always devoted 

llanuontel more than anyone else had the opportunity 
of testing her affection and experienemg her temper 
He was residing at her house when he wrote and 
produced his BiUtaire Madame Geoffnn was the first 
to encourage him to wntc this work of challenge and 
satire but in acting thus she had counted on the 
complete success of the work. She had thought that 
under her ogis the play would not be officfallj 
attacked Not only did the law forbid the performance 

olB^lismre but Mannontel himself wns tried sentenced 
to three months' imprisonment and condemned to 
watch his play burnt by the hand of the public 
executioner Before the decree was carried out it 
was ordered to be affixed for se%'cral dap to the door 
of the guilty author s domicile As Mannontel < 
domicile was none other than that of Madame Geoffrin 
it was on the door of this woman who could not brook 
the slightest criticism and who was ultra-wndtii-e 
that the terms of the sentence were posted ^fodame 
Geodnn was quite Ql from It She e\Tn fell into a 
6S 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


fever, and she harboured a deep and violent resentment 
agamst Marmontel, to whom she owed this mcredible 
humiliation. So when Marmontel came out of prison 
and returned to the Hotel m the Rue de Saint-Honord, 
he was greeted by an unresponsive, disgruntled woman, 
who affected a complete indifierence to the sufferings 
of her proteg^. Marmontel made no effort to appease 
her, but treated her to an even more icy coldness than 
her ovm, and after an interview of a few short moments, 
humed off to his room and barricaded the door. From 
the noise which he made in shuttmg himself m, 
Madame Geoffrin understood that her protege’s 
attitude was going to be neither submissive nor repent- 
ant The pride of the successful bourgeoise, however, 
forbade her to be sorry for the unkind reception which 
she had given him But dunng the course of the 
evenmg, Madame Geoffrin reflected that the author 
had had no dinner, that prison diet had probably 
weakened him, that he must be unhappy, and over and 
above, that he was not yet absolutely vanquished So 
she went up to his room, called him and offered him 
eveiythmg which her motherly heart suggested might 
do him good Marmontel remamed obdurate He 
met Madame Geoffrm’s repeated appeals with a per- 
sistent silence until past midnight, at which late 
hour she abandoned her task But very early next 
momiag she presented herself afresh at MarmonteFs 
door, and this tune her voice was tender and supplicat- 
mg • The author was moved by her compassion, and 
opening his door at last, allowed Madame Geoffnn to 
come mto his room and apologize for her unkmdness 
The scene was short, but touchmg and smcere Madame 
Geoffnn resumed her role of powerful and discermng 

69 



MADAME GEOFFRTN 

benefactress and in less than a week neither wished to 
recall their late difference 
In M ad am e Geoffnn, Voltaire found his most 
powerful ally in placing the great Corneille s grand 
daughter above want Yet Madame Geoffnn had many 
reasons for viewing the little gtri s family with strong 
disfavour Corneille the mechamc, had indeed 
caused her all sorts of troaWe by contesting the will in 
which his great-great uncle, Fontenelle had left 
Madame Geoffnn his life-long fnend, residuary l^tee 
But she did not allow these law-smts to prevent her 
from sending Voltaire the most generons gift of any 
which little Mane Comedllc received 
Madame Geoffnn had, however, her own Idea of 
fnendship Her very counters were engraved with 
the words — Never let grass grow m the path of 
friendship but when her fnends were in a desperate 
situation she ceased to know them. Before the 
hopeless hour had struck, she left no stone unturned 
to save them from shipwreck- Her energies, her 
purse her power everything was brought into play 
But if nohvithstanding this expenditure of trouble 
and money, she could not avert the ruin, she would 
ha\o nothing more to do with them after their foil 
I should prefer you to stop writing to me ' , she said 
m her last letter to one of these human wrecks The 
Comte Caylus has thanked me on your behalf, and 
that is sufBaent I beg you in future to forget that 
you have ever known me I shall forget it too 

Such an attitude maj perhaps excuse Ingratitude 
If Madame Gcoffrin acted in this way ft was prohaW> 
because she wished to preserve her peace She liad 
an extreme dread of anvihlng hIjIcIj might disturb 
70 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


the harmony of her days. She earned this dread so 
far that m the case of thmgs, as well as people, she 
refused to see the side which would destroy her 
illusions, " To perceive the beauty of a thing is a 
pleasure, but we rob ourselves of this sweet expenence 
when we look for its faults ”, she wrote. Therefore 
she declmed to see or to know anythmg which was 
definitely unpleasant, in order to reduce pain m her 
life to a mmimum 

After Monsieur Geoffrm’s death on the 20th December, 
1749, Madame Geoffrin as she advanced m years 
enjoyed more and more the fruits of her long efforts 
She mspired a very real affection Distmguished 
foreigners passmg through Pans sought the honour 
of an mtroduction Not to be received by Madame 
Geoffrm was a far more serious affair than not gomg 
to Court Foreign notables were not only proud of 
havmg been received by Madame GeoFrin, but made 
every effort to contmue the acquamtance after they had 
returned to their own country Kaunitz, the Empress 
Mana-Theresa’s mimster, wrote to Madame Geoffrm 
that he had her portrait m his bedroom The Russian 
Ambassador begged permission to put her m touch 
mth the mother of the Russian Heir-Apparant 

Durmg the autumn of 1758, the Prmcesse d’Anhalt- 
Zerbst, mother of the future Catherme the Great, 
became Madame Geoffrm’s mtimate fnend This 
Prmcess spoke with such admiration of Madame 
GeoErin’s power m Pans, m France and abroad, that 
Catherme, who had become Empress by questionable 
methods, sought eagerly to enter mto a fnendly and 
regular correspondence with Madame Geoffrm with a 
view to gettmg this power on her side. 

71 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


But of all Ma ,d a .i n fi G^Snn s illaatrioQs fncndships 
none touched her heart ao deeply, or exerted so great 
an tnfluence on her life as that which bound her 
to the Comte Poniatowsla, and through him, to his 
fourth son, the witty, elegant, handsome, cultured 
Stanislas Poniatowski, The Comte Poniatowsla was 
so charmed with Madame Geoffnn s conversation 
and touched by the multifarious services which she 
rendered him in Pans that h^chnstened her his 

qjlntnal wife ’ He promised to send her in this 
capamty all hu boys m order that she nd^t advise 
and guide them 

So it happened that when Stanislas Auguste Poma* 
towsld arrived in Pans at the bcgiimmg of 1753 he 
immediately caDed on Madame Geofinn Papa s 
' spiritual wife fell m love at once with this wmnmg 
youth whose voluptuous and disturbing charms were 
to excite the emotions of many a woman No doubt 
she thoroughly realised that this handsome boy had 
nothing of her character nor tastes But for once her 
imagination ordinarily so sane clashed with her 
reason The well balanced Madame Geoffnn ga'"® 
herself up to the enjoyment of a most complete and 
romantic maternal love for the brilliant allunng 
>vorldiy pleasvrre-lovcr, for such was Stanislas Auguste 
Poniatowsld. She wished to maVe him a perfect 
Parisian and a peerless gentleman The joung man 
listened to all the counsels of his adopted mother 
with a deference and amiabflUy which u’cre part of his 
charm but in soacty he was ruled bj his insatiaWe 
instinct for pleasure He was amused and captivated 
by anything pro\'ided it was elegant and in good la’te 
Stanislas Auguste s funds wic soon insuflident for thli 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


life of luxury and pleasure, and Madame Geoffrm 
generously and delicately supplemented them. 

But one day Pomatowski went so far that he too 
expenenced Madame Geoffrm’s seventy Over an 
excitmg game of cards, the young man lost, not only 
all he had and all that his father could send hun, but 
also signed an I O.U. for an enormous sum, far in 
excess of his funds. The hours which immediately 
followed this folly were still untroubled for young 
Pomatowski The mtoxication of the cards, the hope ^ 
of winnmg back the stake, the dazzling lights, and the 
atmosphere of the card-room prevented him from 
thm k mg But next day when he woke m his own 
room, m broad daylight and m full possession of his 
senses, he was seized with horror at the thought that 
he had only twenty-four hours m which to pay the 
enormous debts which he had mcurred What was 
to be done ? It was utterly useless to apply to his 
father The only person who could save him was his 
adopted mother He made up his mmd to confess to 
her, but how he dreaded it ! Madame Geoffrm demanded 
the whole story, without the onussion of a smgle detail 
She listened m silence, then, when all was told, she 
informed her adopted son that she would be obhged 
to confine him to the house while she took the deplor- 
able affair in hand. Pomatowski, only too thankful 
to see a way out of his horrible situation, consented 
to everythmg, and his twenty-four hours incarcera- 
tion m the Rue Samt -Honors seemed to him Paradise 
after all that he had suffered This confinement was, 
moreover, most salutary, for never during the months 
which followed did he repeat the follies of that awful 
night. 


73 



MADAME GEOFFRIN 


When this adopted son ascended the throne of Poland 
on the 9th September 1764 Madame GeofErin -was 
over]oyed * When I think that my dear son whom 
I knew in hia early youth, and scolded well is now 
K ing and loves me ]ust as much as ever, my bram reels 
and my heart bums My Trmity 1 I adore and 
embrace you My son ! My King I \Vbat 

other commoner can say this ? I alone { ' ' 

Soon Madame Geoffnn yielded to the wishes of her 
son King who invited her to come and reign at Warsaw 
He said that without her he faltered m his government 
that she alone could give bun those counsels which 
make great kings What a vision for this bourgcoUe I 
Mother and counsellor of a long 1 
So dar.rlmg was the prospect that even her aFection 
for Paris from which she had never gone farther than 
ten miles nor spent a single night away, was not 
sufficiently strong to make her resist this plan to go (0 
Poland She wanted to see this son on the throne, 
to organize his life to set his kingdom m order 1 So 
she made up her mmd to go and took a whole j'ear to 
prepare for the journey Her coach her trunks her 
dresses, her wardrobe, everything was expressly 
made for the occasion and imder her supemsion 
When finally Madame Geoffrin left Paris it v as a 
European event Sovcreigiis illustrious men high 
dignitones came to greet her Nc%Tr vas queen 
a roj’al progress treated with greater deference 
or honour Her heart overflowed with Joj and pnde 
and she looked forward to an even greater reception 
at Warsaw At lost the Polish capital was reached 

» LettfT from Mirttme Ceoffrto to Wn* S rtnItU* tJ rOiftl. 
Septembw i7<q 

7A 



Stanislss camr ~ 
and ilacairr Gtz: 
of attenticn 2rz~ 


^Zi 

- 




intoxication cf pcpn-ar oran' 

Bnt (ii£app:ir:~ei:i5 aTa, 

Palace. Life cid net nnfci 
pictured. StaniLsn ? 
was surroimdec ar too man;, 
to please 3Iadair.e Geiofrin. 
commented on the fact to : 
her painful surprise, she realiz-ed tiaat ti.e ro Jonr^er 
remembered that he had ashed hi' adopted moihcr io 
counsel and adtdse him. ?onia* 0 '.. 'hi oehaho 'V v, ; }^od 


tiisL 


r.av sie -caa 

.'tar a and itveiy v.ome.c 
Th.e vet".' next cat the 

P' J 0.1 ^ V ^ 


her to occupy a position of hor.ocr and t^iory at , 
but she was to be an idol v.ithout p''j//er and "Jo heej; 
to the role which he had assigned i/; Jjer. Madame 
GeofEnn experienced the cruel !etl di'aj;pojrhrn"n< 
of her life when she discovered sue}] to b^; the j'^h « of 
that son whom she had come to instnict in llie ai < of 
government So she had sacrificed her la'b'C, h'-i 
habits, ber peace, her triumphs in the Rue huUii- 
Honor4 only to discover that her well-lKjlov^d foji 
was not what she had expected. She v/sie a Ie;,(,<u 
personage m Warsaw than she was in Paris. 

When she was thoroughly convinced thnl i]i<‘ vMiiU' 
tion could not be modified, she was oven inoie engei (o 
return to France than she had been to come lo Wnieav/, 
Little by little her maternal love for Ponifdowi.ki 
waned and languished, and when she Jeff polniifl (lie 
breach between her and th6 man whom she had loved 
with such pnde and ardour, was almosi comp)<;le, 

On her return from this triumphal jo e R 
Geoffrm's importance and power still 


75 





MADAME GEOFFRIN 

More tlian ever her salon became the loadstone of France 
and Europe and the objective of all the socially 
ambitious K by reason of herplebian ongm she 
only received once at Conrt although her daughter 
widow of the Marquis de la Fert^-Imbault, was 
entrusted withtheeducationofMadameElizabeth Louis 
XVI s sister, ilarie-Antoinette did forher what she never 
did for anyone else She took advantage of a private 
view of an exhibition of paintings which had been 
arranged for the Royal FamBy, to ask Madame 
Geoffrin to meet her Here the young Queen could 
do what was not possible at Court to wit, invite the 
old fnend of her mother the Emjiress Maria Theresa, 
even though she had declined to jom the ranks of the 
nobility when the opportunity had been gi^*en to her 
As soon as Madame Geoffrin entered the picture gallerj 
Mane Antomette took her young sister m law by (he 
hand and presented her to Madame Geoffrin ( Ne\*cr 
until that day had a young Pnncess of the Wood been 
presented to a bourgeoise I 
This tremendous triumph which set all I^m talking 
be it to praise or blame the Queen's action was one of 
the last which Madame Gcofinn enjoj-ed She began 
to lose her vitality and ago reminded her that 
the fullest life comes to on end One day her Jirabs 
lost their pow^ and she was threatened with panil}*3is 
It was then that her daughter the ilarqulsr de la 
FcrtMmbault on ardent Catholic who had ttlwaj-s 
viewed with sorrow her mother's pleasure in (he tocictj 
of the Encj'clopxdbts and thinkers sought to restore 
Jfadame Geoffrin to the faith of her childhood In 
order that she should die a Chnstun death fortified 
by the ntes of the church she sought cvcr> mean? to 
76 



MADAME GEOFFHIN 


cut her mother off from those whom she termed free 
thmkers and atheists D’Alembert tried to circum- 
vent this manoeuvre, but in vain, kladamc Gcoffrm 
an mvalid, resigned herself to her daughter’s will, but 
still retainmg her wit and good sense she remarked 
“ My daughter is like Godfrey de Bouillon, she wants 
to defend my tomb against the infidels ” Although 
ill, Madame Geoffrm received the Emperor Joseph 11 
m July, 1777 The monarch sat by her bedside for 
qmte two hours 

Three months later on the 6th October, 177 7 > 
Madame Geofirm breathed her last after being reconciled 
to the church, as her daughter had wished , after vniiing 
an exceedmgly affectionate letter to her adopted sen 
and completmg the most intelligent, sensible vrO that 
has ever been drawn up. 

Strange to sa3’', her death passed almost nnn'tieed- 
Cut off from her circle for dose upon a year, it 
rather when she first ceased to come amona them mat 
her friends had mourned her. But nov; it seere^sd a ' 


though she had been dead for along time Only three 0^ 
her old frlendsfoho'wed^'ae coffin— D’Alemhert. Thcnta t 
and Morelfet, Xae others did rot learn until too 
that this woman, who had oormpied euoh e prominom 
portion in Psme and Xmop^;, 0 idee/] to U b'W.c/l 
seven o^c'oek in the rronnint' a-* o O" 

Roch, without pomp ox oexonm/^ noo x m 
in v/hose denartuxe no oxie t-t hoto’O ' ' '/' 


I 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 

The appearance of tius artist s name in a galleiy of 
princesses ladies and salomhes of the aghtcenth 
century may at first sight create astonishment 
Adrienne Lecouvrenr, of hnmble birth ran make not 
only no claim to the title of princess but not even 
to that of “ lady " Neither has she any more right to 
the name of salomdre for her house vras not a soaety 
TtndexDOus where people of both seies came to disecss 
philosophy, politics and Utcrature Nevertheless she 
has a double right to her place here on the one hand 
became of the mfinence which by her talent she had 
upon the theatre and through it upon the literature 
of the eighteenth century and on the other because 
her tragic love affair with the greatest general of his 
tune made her the envied the hcrome or the victim 
of the fashionable salons and of the grandes dames 
her ri>’als 

Monval keeper of the archives at the Com/die 
Franpaise one of Adncnnc Lccouvrcur s most 
reliable and best mfonned biographers has justlj 
said of her 

' In two and a half centuries from the daj's of the 
Cid down to our own no tragic actress wis nobler 
more touching, or moreworthj of admiration and respect 
than Adrienne Lccountcut She brought to (fte theatre 
the virtues of the supenor woman a mind just loftj 
serious tender and rational 
78 







ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 

Adnenne Lecouvreur was bom in 1692 in the little 
town of Damery in Champagne Her father was a 
hatter, and her mother, Marie Bouly, devoted her time 
to lookmg after her family and household. Nothmg 
unusual marked Adrienne’s early youth. There are 
those who claim that when less than ten years old she 
astounded the villagers of Damery by her recitations of 
verse But of this there is no proof or real evidence. 
It is more likely that her talent lay dormant until 
,the time when her father set up as a hatter m Paris, 
that is to say, until the girl was nearly twelve years 
of age Her father opened his shop m the quartier 
St. Germam, not far from the theatre where the 
ComSdie Fran^atse. were then playing Their proximity 
had a profound mfluence on little Adnenne , her 
dramatic instmct developed, showed itself more clearly, 
and became stronger by contact with the talent of the 
actors of this company, the best, perhaps, of the penod. 
The young girl often went to the play, although after 
their arrival in Pans, her father sent her to a convent 
and entrusted her education to the nuns But there 
were holidays, which Adrienne spent m going to hear 
the Comidxe Fran^aise, pretexts which she was able to 
mvent and opportumties which she[never failed to seize 
Thus, when young Mademoiselle Lecouvreur left the 
pension at the age of fourteen, her first effort was 
expended m formmg mto a company of amateurs 
those of her fnends of both sexes who shared her 
love of the theatre, m order to qrganize Society 
performances It may appear strange that a person 
of such tender years should take the lead m such an 
enterpnse, and that, with no experience, without 
advice, ivith exceedmgly small resources, she should 

79 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 

have succeeded m training actors and founding a 
theatre of real valne 

Without true dramatic genfus Adneime -would 
assuredly not ha-re attained such a result Even -noth 
this genius perhaps she -would not ha-re adueved it 
if her case had been unique But at the beginning 
of the eighteenth centuiy there were in Pans and m 
many of the big provincial towns, namerons theatres 
which owed their existence to pnvate initiative directed 
and inspired by quite young peoide, almost al waj’s men 
it IS true. 

Notwithstanding this restriction it was these 
precedents which gave this schoolgirl of jTSferday 
the courage and assurance to make herself head of the 
company It was her talent wbch enabled her to 
tnumph over difficulties and to give to her associates 
a training which she herself hod newer received The 
difficulties of this sort of theatre were all the greater 
since only the officially recognued companies were 
authorized to give performances The theatre in 
France at that time was a monopoly and the actor* 
of these licensed societies were terribly jealous ol Ihrir 
privileges which they knew how to make thoroughly 
respected In spite of everything Adncnne was able 
to hold her own She obtained for her theatre the 
patronage of a literary grande dante the Pr«?sidcnte 
du Gay This ladj was so captivated hy the young 
girl s talent and the abflilv of her company that «hr 
invited them to gire a public pcrfonnonce m her hfilft 
The entertainment was to begin with a trngtdy to 
be followed by a comedy Le demt (In Moumlnp) 
which had nothmg of the gloom that Its title would 
appear to suggest 


8o 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


The Presidente’s offer was naturally accepted with 
enthusiasm by the little theatre The date of the 
evenmg chosen was awaited with impatience, and fever- 
ish activity so that eveiythmg should be arranged to 
the best advantage At last the ^ longed-for day 
arrived and the openmg of the entertamment passed 
all expectations The audience, large and select, 
acclaimed m Adnenne a new star Madame du Gay 
felt proud of havmg discovered a talent of the first 
order, which but for her would have remamed un- 
recognized At the end of the last act of the tragedy 
the whole company received a veritable ovation All 
the actors were stimulated by their success to play 
the comedy which was to follow , but before they had 
time to begm several pohce ofiicers, sent by the Kmg’s 
players, who were madly jealous of the tnumph of 
the new artiste and her fnends, came to stop the 
performance m the name of the law It was m vam 
that Madame du Gay and her friends tried to mtervene 
m favour of their protigis, to pomt out that this per- 
formance given in a private house, could not be com- 
pared with a play acted m a public place , their 
msistence only ended m exasperatmg the police and 
causmg them to threaten to conduct the whole company 
to the Chatelet 

Thus Adrienne’s first tnumph termmated m rout - 
It was fortunate that the enthusiastic Madame du Gay 
was able to engmeer a swift revenge for the artiste 
She mterested the Prior of Vendome, all-powerful on 
his free domam and hdtel of the Temple At his house 
the pohce had no more power than the players to prevent 
Adnenne from actmg Thanks to the Prior of 
Vendome ’s patronage, the debutante knew the sustammg 

8i 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 

applause, renswed night by night and a public 
whose enlightened and refined taste was to her a 
ventable education 

But naturally it was Bfademoisellc I,econ\Teur's 
ambition to belong to a licensed company The 
mtervention of one of her aunts was to open the waj 
for her This aunt was merely a laundress and 
she justified once again that reputation for cumung 
and finesse which the French laundress has alwa>*s 
borne 

Among her customers the said laundress numbered 
one of the most famous actors of the da}? — Blonsicur 
Legrand Now m order to gain for her niece Monsieur 
L^rand a patronage and advice the laundress 
bestowed the roost touching atienlions on his linen 
No man in Paris had neck bands so white cufis so well 
goffered or such raoderute washing bills as had Monsiciir 
Legrand The actor was moved such treatment 
and asked his laundress m what way he could show hU 
gratitude 

This was the moment for which the aunt had waited 
She told Legrand of Adncnne s dream of her difficulties 
and of her desire to become a great artiste Legrand 
went to the Temple to bear the >*oung tragedienne 
At the end of her first declamation he v.“X5 as cnlliu^i 
astic over, as he was amarod at the j'oung girl s talent, 
and without waiting for the morrow he offered in the 
first interval to teach her the trade * and to phee 
his connection and influence in relation to the stage 
at her service It was thanks to thi^ innumre 
and to Legrand 5 Jensons that in i?oS "he obtain'^ 
her first theatrical engagement at Strasbourg 

At that time Adrienne was onl> sixteen Imt lirr 
Fz 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


talent and mmd were already those of a mature woman. 
Her subtle gift of observation led her to follow 
Moli^re's example, and she, too, went to the provmces 
to gain finish. In Paris she would have had no oppor- 
tunity of studying what was true to nature Indeed, 
so great is the power of fashion m the capital, which 
has for so long given its tone to the world, that he who 
lives there is never absolutely himself but a person 
formed by the dictates of custom and good taste 
In the provinces, on the contrary, especially at this 
epoch, when the means of communication were still 
few and slow, everyone reveals his own mdividuality, 
charactenstics and even peculiarities Love of com- 
fort, vanity, ignorance of what is gomg on in Pans, and 
country life, explain the difference between the Pansian 
and the denizen of the provmces Then the young 
arttste was confronted at Strasbourg by a vast collection 
of picturesque and natural models which were to 
furnish her with the true and real elements of her 
numerous livmg creations For an actress with 
Mademoiselle Lecouvreur’s gifts the opportunity was 
invaluable. 

In 1708, Adnenne was physically, as well as mentally, 
fully developed -She was not at all pretty, if beauty 
consists of havmg regular features, but she was 
extremely pretty if one finds beauty pre-emmently 
m expression and charm She was rather short, but 
everythmg about her was graceful and m harmony 
Her dark eyes were bright and full of fire , her heart- 
shaped mouth, with its full, vividly red lips, was truly 
beautiful She had an aquilme nose, soft silky auburn 
hair, a noble and confident carnage, and a very mobile 
face To see and hear her was to love her. 

83 



ADRIENNE LECOXTVREUR 

Mademoiselle Lecouvrcur's art bore the stamp of 
her personality Like her it rras sympathetic and 
from this date it sought to express itself and 

naturally Indeed hardlj had Adrienne made her 
dihiii at Strasbourg than she took an uncongnerahle 
dislike to the prevailmg manner of declaiming Imes 
Nothing could be less natural than tlm manner 
One might almost say that the lines were sung rather 
than spoken It was a sort of monotemons chant with 
a pause on the caesura and at the end of the hnc the 
next Ime beginning with the same uniform sing-*ong 
cadence something like that soothing music of Sarah 
Bernhardt s golden voice which was one day to gam 
the admiration of the whole world But the artificial 
chant employed by second rate or c%*ai common 
actors had something so spurious so unnatural about 
it that the impulsive genius of Adnenne Lecouvreur 
rose at once in revTilt 

Adrienne wished to speak walk and behave on the 
stage as she did in real life She discarded the habit 
of chantmg lines and msfead spoke them with 
expression taste naturalness and artistic ^unplidtj 
It was in simplicity that she sought her most moNlng 
effects She spoke on the stage as •che did outside 
but with much care expression and exactitude At 
the same tune she never risked a gerture which fhe 
considered out of place or affected in a drauing*Tooin 
WTiilc one of her rao^t famous contemporanes Mademoi 
«ieUeDuclos tookfi\*crainutestositdovmorto Wow her 
nose on the stage Adrienne endca\-ourcd to male 
each of her mosTraents harmonious and dignified 
and abo\'c all to gi\e the Imprt'^ion of truth and 
smcent> 

84 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


This new way of speaking lines and of transforming 
the preconceived idea of the theatre constituted a 
regular artistic revolution It may be said that the 
rational, logical, and natural school of actmg, which 
has had so profound an mfluence on the education of 
the people of France, is the outcome of the good 
taste and good sense, of the labour and courage of this 
actress of gemus Adrienne created a new style 
which was all the more pleasing because it was nearer 
to the truth and easier to understand 

Unfortunately, when she reached this far-off epoch, 
the tragedienne sought m love a rest from her labours 
and a support which her gentle heart could not do 
without 

She fell m love, first of all, with a young baron who 
died a short tune after meetmg her Soon afterwards 
she wanted to marry the actor Clavel, brother of the 
manageress of the theatre at Strasbourg where Adnenne 
had already earned out such important reforms. 
But Clavel turned a deaf ear to her proposals of marriage. 
He preferred short-lived liaisons to a defimte union, 
which creates obligations and duties Then, annoyed 
and humiliated, Adnenne, who had twice been dis- 
appomted m love, listened to the ardent declarations 
of Phihppe Le Roy, This man, as unscrupulous as he 
was mcapable of deep feelmgs, hastened to desert 
her as soon as he had made her the mother of a daughter 
— Elizabeth Adrienne, who was bom m 1710 The 
yoiing actress was only eighteen years of age More 
than ever morally disillusioned, and thirstmg for 
affection as she had never done before, she allowed a 
certam Kmghm, who promised her mamage, to make 
love to her But he basely deserted her m favour 

85 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


of a nch woman in his native tovm after Adnenne 
had given birth in 1716 to a second daughter, Franfoise 
Catharine Ursula. 

In face of her many repulses and fresh attempts to 
try to find happmess m love, one of Adnenne s bio- 
graphers has the hard-hcartedness to say 
" Adnenne spent her hfe in workmg and loving 
She went from Legrand to the Chevalier de Rohan 
from Rohan to Voltame from Vollaiie to Lord Peters- 
borough from Lord Petershorough to the Marshal 
of Saacony ’ The same biographer has even had the 
cruelty to state that Lord Pcteisborough going to 
Adnenne as to a purveyor of love and vnt used to sa> 
on entering 

' Now Madame, show me plenty of love and picntj 
of wit and 111 pay well for both ' 

This manner of depicting Adnenne is as cruel os it 
is unjust If this passionate and loving woman 
allowed her affections to wander it vros because her 
lovers were faithless Every rupture caused her 
acute pain Each time that her Intcnselj tender 
nature disposed her to listen to a new wooer she 
always believed him to be thconc lor whomherheart Iiad 
been u'aiting and who would remain her life mate 
Besides neither Voltaire nor Legrand were an>'thlnp 
more to Adnenne than dc\^ted fnends Fuialij 
one must alwaj*5 remember that her lo\e affairs never 
mterfered with her n*ork. 

Adnenne LecoavTcur returned to Pans in ryi/ 
crowned with fame after her pro\’lnclal luccesics and 
the important reforms which she had succerded in 
imposmg on theatrical art Thf Co*n^du Frar^aiU 
now claimed her as its own and from the dale of her 
' 86 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


entrjf she reigned there as queen Complete mistress 
of this simple and natural art, impressive by reason of 
its freedom from artificialit}^ which she had created, 
and which she perfected with each day, she filled the 
most difiicult roles of the repertory and jeach one of 
her creations was a triumph As Pauline in the 
tragedy of Polycucic she gave an admirable representa- 
tion of strong gentleness, of striking self-sacnfice 
of simple nobility. As Momme m Miihidate she was 
extremely touching m her resignation and love. When 
she played Bdrdmce the whole house shook with sobs 

To take a number of entirely different parts, Adnenne 
Lecouvreur was superblj^ ternble in the frenzies of 
Jocasta, Athalie, Roxane, Hermione and in the passion- 
ate transports of the bummg and twice guilty love 
of Phsedra With equal ease this clever tragedienne 
could depict gentleness, frenzy, passion and resigna- 
tion She was always so natural and so much herself, 
that each one of her creations seemed a page out of 
her own life She brought to the stage the same 
smeenty which characterized her pnvate life Despite 
the theory of a great actor of our day. Constant 
Coquelm, called Coquelm ain6, we have m Adrienne 
Lecouvreur a stnkmg proof of how an actor or an actress 
can live completely m their role and yet remam 
supreme masters of their art Adnenne was so success- 
ful in this, that for thirteen years she was acknowledged 
as the wonderful and marvellous queen of the Comd'^'''’ 
Frangaise 

But nvals, both male and female, did not sp 
She had contmually to fight them and to circi 
their mtngues, those of Mademoiselle Duclos, 
had been the public’s favor* ’ Adi 

87 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 

appearance in Pans and of ifiademoisellft Gaussin 
m particular The triumphant Adneime with no 
other help than the advice of her devoted friend the 
actor Baron succeeded in frustrating the plots of all 
her enemies without harming any one of fhem But 
these battles like her former disappointments m love, 
caused her very real and profound sufienng Tender 
and true Adnenne Lecouvreur was destined to suffer 
much even m the scene of her triumphs because of 
her passionate feelings and delicate sensibfhty Yet 
it was not the stage which was to cause her the greatest 
pain and suffering of her life but one for whom she 
made immense sacrifices and for whom her love was 
boundless 

A few years after her d^bui at the ComidireFraniaxie, 
Adnenne Lecouvreur had been very mneh noticed and 
admired by a most distinguished the cynosure 

of all eyes m Europe Kannce of Saarony for her 
amorous wooer was none other than he natural son 
of Augustus 11, King of Poland and the Countess of 
Koenigsmark possessed the high courage and radiant 
beauty with which popular imagination m those days 
chose to endow the sons of kings Very prmcely were 
his heart and wits and his brilliant qualities were 
enhanced by a gallant manner as whimsical as if ■ft’as 
fantastic Like his father he boasted that he could 
never resist a pair of beautiful eyes After his 
marriage to the Prmcess de Loben who ioved him 
With a burning but restless passion Maunce left no 
stone unturned to obtam a divorce because ho \N'as 
for more annojed by his wife s jealousj than be 
%vould have been had she bated him But newr irtrc 
scenes of jealousy better justified than those of the 
8S 




MAURICE OF SAXONY 
Bom 1696 , died 1750 


Print by J Q Will after the portrait painted by Hyacinthe Tllgaud 
cheoalier de I ordre de St Ctitichel 





ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


Pnncesse dc Lobcn witli Nanricc o£ Saxony. To 
love, lo fight, and to chaim, such was our young hero's 
life during his marriage, as it uas botli before and after 
Now, whenever Itlauncc of Saxony had heard 
Mademoiselle Lccouvrcur, he was so mo\cd b}'^ her 
charms and superioritj’' tliai he seemed lo become a 
different man From the first lime that he saw her 
on the stage he fell head over heels in love with her. 
He waited, however, before declaring his passion 
to be quite sure that his imagination was not leadmg 
lum astra3\ But at each new performance that he 
heard Adrienne, the young captain's passion grew 
until it dominated his whole being One evenmg, 
unable any longer to resist the fiame of his devouring 
love, he begged with deep emotion the favour of bemg 
received m the actress’s dressing room This happmess 
was granted him, and then, almost before he caught 
sight of her, he swore on his honour and by his valour 
that if she would only listen to his love he would 
dedicate himself to her for life and that he was ready 
to sacrifice everythmg for her sake. For her, he 
promised to give up war, to renounce fame, worldly 
success, and valorous romantic adventures He 
desired nothmg henceforth but to love and be loved 
by her 

The tender-hearted woman, fascinated by the 
Prmce’s beauty, by his passion, which was as eloquent 
as it was ardent, his distmction and his manly grace, 
by all that was irresistible and compellmg in his 
nature, believed that, at last, she had found the hero 
of her dreams She believed that he it was whom 
her heart had longed for and sought while it was 
making so many mistakes, the chosen bemg for whom 

89 



ADRIENNE LECOTJVREUR 


she had suffered ail tie pam sind dlsappomtnieiit 
m the past in order that when he came she might 
be vrorthy of hum And for the first time m her life 
Adrienne was infinitely happy 
The tragedienne loved Maurice of Saxony as he desired 
to be loved absolutely, exclusively mndiy i?er 
genius became the handmaid to her love ^Vben 
Adnenne mterpreted the fiery burning heroic passions 
of her rdUs, it was of her lover that she thought and 
for him and through httn she became more superb 
She grew with her passion 
Maunce on his side became gentle and tender for 
her sake The hon was tamed to please his lady 
The universe for him seemed to begm and end where 
Adnenne lived hia real sunshine was the smile of bis 
mistress Pans beheld with amazement the spectacle 
of Maunce of Saxony in the part of a faithful and 
constant lover The two fimt Imes of La Fontaines 
fable of the pair of doves was applied to them 

Two turtle-dovci loved each other most tenderly ‘ 
The sceptical eighteenth century smiled benignly 
and sympathetically on the idyll of the general and the 
tragedienne Both of them, plunged m happmess, 
tasted its delights to the full 

But there came a day when the Hon awoke Bfourice 
of Saxony considered that he owed it to his illustrious 
birth to become a king It seemed to him that to 
accept a humble position in the W'orld and to remain 
inactive before he bad conquered a throne would be an 
insult to his father A study of the map of Europe 
encouraged the hope of Courland s subjugation ho 

l 

> DfV* piitemt s ttnJrf 

90 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


sooner did he conceive this dazzling scheme than it 
became an obsession. Adrienne did not imagme that 
she would lose her lover, that Courland would become 
his new passion, and that war was about to dispute 
her claim on him. She shed tears, lamented the days 
that were past, and was startled by the rapid flight 
of time But m the spirit of a true heroine she swore 
in no way to dissuade her valorous lover from an 
enterprise which might add to his fame. She went even 
further After sweanng to Llaunce of Saxon}'’ that 
nothmg could make her untrue to her vows of faithful- 
ness, her devotion carried her to the point when, 
m order to provide funds for the expedition to Courland 
ip 1726, she sold all her jewels and silver plate 
j\Iaurice was, at that time, as throughout the whole of 
his life, deeply m debt and absolutely unable to lay 
out any money on this expedition. 

Spontaneous and generous as was this beau geste 
of Adnenne Lecouvreur, cruel pens have, nevertheless, 
criticized and accused the tragedienne of acting thus 
in order to hold by her purse-stnngs the lover who one 
day might be a king, and whom she hoped then to 
make her lawful husband. But the campaign in Cour- 
land was marked only by reverses. Maurice of Saxony 
was unmatched m valour and accomplished many 
notable deeds But his achievements added to his 
prestige alone When, in 1729, he returned to Pans, 
he had won nothmg and had spent every penny of 
the considerable sums of money which Adnenne had 
sacrificed to his bid for victory " But the grandes 
dames, who knew how valiant and splendid he had been 
were infatuated with him and vied with one another 
as to who should mvite, fete, and pet him most. One 

91 



ADRIEN!^ LECOUVREUR 


of them in particular the Duchesse de Bouillon grand 
daughter of Poland 3 popular hero John Sobiesky 
who delivered Vienna from the Turks in 1683 was 
passionately enamoured of him and sought to compel 
his love Maunce of Saxony flattered by the atten- 
tions and raptures of these ladies, espeaaHv bv the 
Duchesse de Bouilion s passion told himself that his 
luition with Adrienne did not deprive him of the right 
to enjoy the love of the great ladies who admired him 
He still loved his mistress but the fiery passion of the; 
years before 17^6 had burnt out His love for Adnenne 
now was nothing more than an ordinary afiecUon 
ready for any compromise This was why the gay 
captam ventured to invite the Duchess to his Folie , 
that is to say to the villa which according to the 
fashion followed by the uigneun of the eighteenth 
century he had bought and furnished solely for his love 
vagaries The Duchesse deBomllon hastened to accept 
the wamor a mvitadon and in the name of the tics 
which henceforth united her to Mamie© she insisted 
on going with him to hear Mademoiselle Lccouvrcur 
On the ovenmg when the Duchesse de Bouillon and 
Maurice of Saxony repaired together to the theatre 
to hear the tragedienne Adrienne felt that the Duchess 
was her rival Stung by jealousy she was more 
wonderful than ever Five times the curtain was 
raised m response to the tremendous applause of the 
audience The Duchess sclrcd the occasion of this 
ovation to inform her companion that she wuld like 
to add her special congratulations to the public applause 
in order that Mademoiselle lecou\Tcur might knov, 
how greatly she admired her So she in\ited Adrienne 
to come to her box to reccUo her personal compliments 

92 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


In reality, Madame de Bouillon was anxious to see 
the actress at close quarters, for she wished to find out 
for herself how far Adnenne was a danger to her new 
and bummg passion The grace, the brilliant genius, 
the charmmgpersonality of the actress when she appeared 
at the invitation of the giande. dame, alarmed the 
Duchess to the very depths of her sodl, and it was 
probabl}^ at the very moment when she was showenng 
praise upon her that Madame de Bouillon first thought 
of the enme which later rid her of a rival who was her 
supenor 

Maurice and Adnenne still contmued to meet after 
that evemng, which for a few mmutes had brought 
the new and the old favourite together But with each 
day Adnenne felt more and more that Maunce was 
estranged and had betrayed her This estrangement 
and betrayal caused her such suffenng, that, formerly 
sweet and gentle, the young woman became violent 
and threatening One evenmg when Maunce passed 
in front of the stage as Adrienne was reciting the Ime 
"In default of your arm lend me your sword", the 
unhappy woman snatched the sword from the actor 
who was giving her the cue, and hurled it after the 
Marshal In spite of this exhibition of violence they 
met agam the next day, the day after, and on several 
subsequent occasions But there was no longer any 
confidence between them Maunce was ill at ease, 
and Adnenne restless Their tete-a-tetes dragged and 
yet Adnenne wished with all her heart that she had the 
power to prolong them, and it was with reluctance that 
Maunce of Saxony curtailed them. 

While this beautiful love was slowly petenng out, 
the Duchesse de Bouillon did not lose tune She 


93 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREDR 


studied ways of poisonmg Mademoiselle Lecouvmir 
surely and without arousing suspiaon The ahhi 
Bouvet, whom Adneime bad known at Strasbourg 
and who at Pans had been one of her most consistent 
and devoted visitors was accosted three times by 
masked persons who offered to pay him large sums if 
he would consent to give to the aritsis the sweets which 
would be delivered to him The ahbi not only refused 
the proposal but warned Axirienne besides Four 
days after taking this step he was seired thrown into 
prison and it was not long before be was cross-examined 
The abb/ repeated to the judge what he had said to 
Mademoiselle Lecouvreur and he persisted in its 
accuracy in spite of the efforts of his interrogator 
It IS true that a few days later being put to the torture 
he said what they wanted to stop the atrocious 
sufferings indicted on him 
While the abb^ Bouvet was groaning m prison 
Adrienne Lecouvreur had been seixed with a strange 
illness at the b^inning of February, 1730 She 
became weak languid thin and pale They talked of 
intestinal trouble but she had not one of the sjonptoms 
In spite of herguffering iixeira^edtenne tried toconquer 
the malady and contihued to act But at a perform 
ance in the early part of March her strength ga\'e wa> 
despite all her efforts and she swooned on the stage 
at the be ginnin g of the third act in v.hlch she was 
playing the principal r 6 le On the 15th March she 
wanted to tread the boards again and made her 
reappearance in the rdlc of Jocasta She was so white 
that evening so ^veak and emaciated that ei'entme 
who saw her was struck by it and some wept from 
pity She died on the 20th of March 173® daj^ 

94 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 


after this performance. The illness which earned her 
off remained a myster}!-, no doctor could diagnose it, 
and even to-day her death is shrouded m doubt and 
uncertamty 

Two of our renoivned writers have been moved to 

« 

celebrate in verse this premature and sad end of a 
great and charming artiste, in a pla}^ which has become 
famous, and which all Europe and part of America 
has applauded. Their work, which bears the name of 
our herome, shows Adrienne dying, as she did m 
reality, a mystenous death, caused by her powerful 
nval But in the play. Scribe and Ernest Legouve 
have softened the death by the presence of the adored 
lover Maunce of Saxony is represented as more than 
ever m love with Adrienne, m despair at the thought 
of losmg her, and consoling her with all the strength 
of his bummg passion. The manner, too, m which 
Adneime is poisoned is artistic and romantic m the play 
The tragedienne does not, in fact, die m a mystenous 
way, but after smellmg some magnificent roses which 
she thinks have been sent to her by her loved one 

As a matter of fact, Maurice of Saxony was not at all 
upset by the death of Adnenne Lecouvreur He 
was not present to comfort and console her at the last 
Adnenne, attacked slowly by a terrible sickness which 
was concealed neither in the scent nor m the brilliant 
colours of roses, died heart-broken over the mdiffer- 
ence of her lover, who had reproached her for bemg too 
constant and too much m earnest She died with no 
one near her but Voltaire, who swore to care for her 
daughters as a father, a vow which he kept to the letter 

So died, at the begmnmg of the eighteenth century, 
the greatest of French tragediennes, at the age of 

95 



ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR 

thirty-eight deserted but m the fulness of her triumph, 
and at the zenith of her gemns 

She passed away at No 21, Rue du Marais St Germain 
(to-day the Rue I^sconti) In the same house in which 
Racine had died and in which La Qairon the greatest 
interpreter of Voltaire s tragedies hved After her 
death the church refused her religious burial as it bad 
refused Molifire It was a great scandal that this 
gentle devoted clever young woman who died a 
victim of the vices of the great should have been 
depnved of the last rites of sympathy and respect 
which religion paj^ to the dead Voltaire and many 
of her fnends protested strongly agamst such an 
injustice But the ashes of Adrienne Lecouvreor 
remained nose the less on the banks of the Seine at 
the comer of the Rue de Bourgogne where the street 
porters had earned them secretly during the night 
following her death. 

The same year in which the memory of the channmg 
clever natural interpreter of the best of French 
dramatic works was thus humiliated and sacrificed to 
the prejudiced London accorded to its great actre^ 
of the day Mrs Oldfield who died in the capital on 
the 23rd of October 1730 the honour of interment 
m Westmmstcr Abbey 

The sole monument erected to the glory of Adnenne 
Lecouvreur was the epitaph written by an unknoim 
hand several months after her death near to the place 
in which her remains had been flung 

0 passer by stop read and weep 

Here in the same tomb He 

The Muses the Grace* the Loves 

Wth Adrienne Leccm\Teur the glorj of the stige 


96 



MADAME D’EPINAY 

The heroine who is the subject of this chapter belonged 

t 

to that refined and cultured society of the eighteenth 
century whose highest desire was to be ivitty, to have 
charming manners and to enjoy life This society 
took up philosophy and social economy as an intellectual 
sport and because the great ivnters of the day had 
made philanthropy the fashion. But its pnncipal 
interest lay in the keen pursmt of pleasure in all its 
forms. It sought every kind of enjoyment, from 
the noble enthusiasm for study down to the fretting 
emotions of a love far from platonic, and the most 
superficial sensations stirred by the delights of a skil- 
fully and subtly furmshed table, whose viands were 
washed down with wines as varied as they were delicious. 
Everyone took his pleasure as he fancied, in the most 
brazen way The stem Diderot was nothing less than 
Mademoiselle VoUand’s lover Mademoiselle de 
I’Espinasse was proud to publish her hmson with the 
Marquis de Mora, which, nevertheless, did not prevent 
her from dying of love for Gmbert The President 
Hdnault restored dignity to Madame du Deffand 
by makmg her his mistress Voltaire’s niece, Madame 
Denis, occupied so ill-defined a position m relation 
to her uncle that it was possible to wnte “ She 
adores her uncle as a man .qmte as much as an 
uncle. Voltaire loves her dearty, laughs at her and 
respects her Duclos, the man of letters, wrote to 
a great lady with whom he was m love and whose 

* Letter of Madame d’Epmay 

97 



MADAME D’EEIKAY 

lover he aspired to be, Yonr brother in law wants to 
sleep with yon you will bo very foolish if von refuse 
him Even the Dauphme Manfr-Antoinette dared 
to make a fnend of M^ame de Gudm^nfc who 
though married hved openly with the Due de Coigny 
This environment reacted fatally on the girl who 
became Madame d Epmay It was this environment 
combmed with the mistaken education imposed by 
her mother udiich at first dragged onr heroine mto a 
life of scandal and deception 

Madame d Epmay was bom Louise-Florence-Petron 
ille Tardieu d EsclaveHes at Cond^-sur 1 Escaut, on 
the iith of March 1726 Herfatherwasadistingnisbed 
officer of^bigh mihtaiy rank who belonged to a very 
good family her mother was Flemish by birth. 
Lomse d EseJavehes had the great misfortune to lose 
her father early This misfortune was all the more 
serious as the death of Monsieur d Esdavelles left the 
familj in difficult arcomstances and the little girls 
education remained entirely in the hands of a mother 
who was extremely fond of her no doubt, but whose 
fervent and narrow piety warped both her mind 
and her judgment Dominated by this piety hfadame 
d Esdavelles considered that to bring up her daughter 
well it was essential to break her will and to exact a 
bUnd and absolute obedience, ^\*he^ Louise was mth 
her mother she had the right neither to think nor to 
exercise her wiIL She could not ei’en haw a prefer 
ence. She had simply to obey 
Her position as a poor relation intensified this state 
of things when despite the hx'ely protests of Madame 
de RoncheroUct an aristocratic aunt of Monsieur 
d Esdavelles, the widow sent her daughter to he 

9S 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


brought up by her sister, Madame de la Live de 
Bellegarde, who had married a wealthy farmer-general 
In this home Louise d’Esclavelles was a drudge to the 
haughty, vain, foohsh and hard Madame de Belle- 
garde as well as to her jealous, naughty and violent- 
tempered elder daughter Louise, who had already 
a malicious and sharp wit, judged them as they 
deserved , but she dared not show what she thought 
This httle person, retired into herself through fear, 
yet ver^^ inteUigent, became, as she said later “ Truth- 
ful without bemg frank ”, while the passive obedience 
exacted from her made her a creature without any will, 
incapable of self-gmdance, and henceforward apt to 
submit to no matter what domineermg mfluence 
As Lomse was keenly sensitive, had a romantic imagm- 
ation, and a heart overflowmg with tenderness, it is 
easy to understand how an education, which set out to 
destroy her will and self-confidence, would contribute 
to her unhappiness 

Events were not long in proving this The de 
Bellegardes’ eldest son, then called Monsieur de La 
Live, and older than Lomse by two years, was attracted 
by his cousin’s languorous black eyes, by her dreamy 
air, her grace and that all-pervadmg charm which 
enslaved every man who met hen He wished to make 
this artless loving creature whom he felt had no will, 
his own To succeed m this he had only to look 
tenderly at her, to offer her flowers durmg the walks 
which the children of the house took together and to 
show pleasure at bemg m her company After 
several weeks of these manoeuvres, Lomse dreamt 
of no-one but her cousm So when, one fine day, he 
slipped mto her hand a note m which he asked her to 

99 



MADAMF D’EPINAY 

become hia wife, she trembled from head to foot with 
]oy aijd thought that heaven was opening at her 
feet Bat Monsieur de la Live was barely fifteen years 
old at the tune and his cousm thirteen So they could 
only love each other in secret and speak of it m 
private Louise made use of the fedmg which she 
inspired to try to make her cousin less lary but his 
chief endeavour was to gain sole possession of her 
heart He wrote passionate love letters to excite 
her aSections until a day came when the unhappy 
I^msc spied on by her cousm s elder sister allowed 
her aunt to s urpri se her with one of those compromis 
mg notes m her bosom 

The storm was terrible Madame de Bellegarde had 
always counted on her son s makmg a grand mamage 
when she had proof that this portionless niece whom 
she had taken m out of chanty stood between her 
plan and her son she could find for her no insults 
snfflaently violent nor treatment contemptuons 
pTinn gh She sent for Madame d Esclavcilcs whom 
she also loaded with Insults and reproaches then she 
dismissed both women In the same way that one shows 
an unfaithful servant to the door 

Alone with her daughter Madame d Esclav’elles 
was harsher than Bfadame de Bellegarde and Louise 
trembling terrified at what she had done but mad!) 
in love with her cousin fell so dangerously lU that 
they feared for her Ufe. Meanwhile Monsieur de la 
Live travelling for the first tunc on business under 
the care of a tutor drove the latter to despair bj running 
into debt over actresses and bj turning night into 
day In sj^te of this he had no difficulty in making 
his fond, trembling artless cousin belie\-e that he still 
too 



MADAME D’EPINAY 

loved her passionately and that he would always 
remain faithful to her 

Madame de Bellegarde’s premature death brought 
about a reconcihation between the two famihes and 
also the umon for which Lomse had suffered so much 

The marriage took place in Pans on the 23rd of 
December, 1743 The bridegroom, who m future 
bore the name of Monsieur de la Live d'Epmay, brought 
as dowry three-hundred-thousand hvres m money 
and twelve-thousand hvres m diamonds, receiving 
two-thousand hvres for his pnvate purse The bnde 
had only thirty-thousand hvres m money , twelve- 
thousand hvres as represented by her trousseau, and 
eighteen-thousand hvres m furniture But her 
mother’s brother, a Canon at Notre-Dame de Cond^ 
secured to her the possession of an estate which he 
owned The young couple on payment of a very low 
rent went to hve with Monsieur de Bellegarde where 
Madame d’Esclavelles had been ensconced as house- 
keeper Thus m a flash Lomse d'Esclavelles became 
the rich and happy wife of the man whom she admired 
more than anyone m the world and whom she loved 
with all the passion of her tender and romantic nature 
These first months of marriage were idylhc "What 
can be more dehghtful or happier ", she wrote to young 
Madame de Maupeon, her cousin on her father’s side, 
" than to be the darhng wife of a man whom one loves 
and for whom one has suffered ’’ Or, agam, she 
describes to this same cousin, who was very dear to her, 
an intimate scene in her married life, which moves her 
even as she recalls it " He was pla5ang on the 
harpsichord ’’, she told her , " I I the 

arm of his chair, my left hand r'' ' " 'il- 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


and my other hand tnnnng over the leaves he never 
missed to s sin g it each time it passed m front of hi* 
hps 0 consin how deliaous it is to play 

music f 

But while Madame d'Epmiy was intoxicated with 
happmess the mother felt mdignant that her daughter 
belonged to her leas than formerly Each day she 
goes five minutes earlier to her room Whatever does 
she do ? Dress ? Fondle her husband ? ’ wrote 
Madame d Esclavelles in an outbnrst of anger to her 
brother the kmd blunt Comte de Preux, only ten^ 
days after Madame d Epinaj^s mamage, Madame 
d Esclavelles also complained that her daughter rouged 
on the advice of her husband hhed going to the play 
with him and forgot those austere pnnaples whidi 
she had taught her In short she wanted Lomsc to 
be as she was before her mdmage and to destroy 
Monsieur d Epinay s influence over his wife. 

Madame d Epinay who was deeply attached to her 
mother but at the same tune madly m love with her 
husband, was caught between two cross currents She 
wanted to please and make concessions to each and onlj 
succeeded m vexing both and domg herself much 
harm- 

Madame d Esclavelle s tyranny forced the >*oung 
husband to go out alone In the e%*ening more and more 
— a dangerous habit for a man with a past Uhe that of 
Monsieur d Epmay who had a frivolous fickle char 
acter and an excessive low of spending and of Iuxur> 
and who was aware that the bulk of his father s immense 
fortune os well as the very remunerative position of 
farmer general would one daj be hl» So his nocturnal 
expeditions were soon lengthened Soon too under 
loa 



MADAME D'EPINAY 


the pretext of not disturbing his wife's slumbers, he 
insisted that she should occupy a separate room 
Just at first he visited her every evenmg when he came 
home, but, ere long ashamed of the condition in whicb 
he often returned and also of the lateness of the hour 
which the clock revealed, he carefully avoided his 
wife's room Madame d'Epinay’s black eyes, her 
love, and somethmg touching about her, no doubt 
still pleased the husband , but Monsieur d'Epmay 
knew that a kiss or an avowal of love next day would 
be sufficient to keep this fond, sweet, simple creature 
under the conjugal yoke 

So he struggled less and less agamst his coarse and 
selfish prochvities Two months after his mamage 
he returned home one night from supper with the 
Chevaher de Canaples, intoxicated and sick from 
over-eatmg Lomse, who heard her husband groamng, 
ran to his bedside and nursed him tenderly through 
the night But m the momrng she considered herself 
justified m telling him very gently that he could have 
avoided much suffering had he spent the previous 
evenmg with her instead of gomg to the Chevaher 
de Canaples The remark was not to Monsieur 
d’Epmay's taste He sulked with his wife for a whole 
week, and went off agam the self-same day at half 
past two to continue the entertainment 

Madame d’Epmay, heart-sick and rebuked by her 
mother for havmg cnticised her husband, addressed a 
long tale of woe to good Monsieur d’Afirey, her 
guardian “ Alas ' " she send to him, palpitating with 
love for her unworthy husband, " Alas ' Can I have 
a will other than his ? " 

At the end of six months, Madame d’Epmay was 

103 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


forced to recognixe that her husband had deceived her 
contracted debts, and spent considerable sums of 
money on a dancer at the Operh Geneviive Oaude 
Rainteau, called de Vemire ravishingly pretty 
but so unintelligent that she was nick-named la 
BeUe et U Bite * 

Madame d Epinay’s love survived this di*co\’eiy 
She stfll hoped to win back her husband Had he not 
often told her that men did not love paid women, and 
that the only woman to whom they cleave is the one 
to whom they give their name and who is the mother 
of their children ? Now it was just at this time that 
Madame d'Epinay herself was expecting to become 
a mother She retired to la Cbevrette the magnificent 
family estate of the de Bellegaxdes in order to make 
preparations in seclusion for the coming event and to 
think more of the beloved husband who wa* on 
oremt as farmer-general for the first time for a period 
of not less than six months 

When the time drew near for the birth of her child 
Madame d Epmay resolved to nurse it herself and 
make it more her own and in this way tighten the bond 
which united her to her husband Had not Rousseau 
inspired all fond mothers with this desire ? But this 
is what her husband wrote on the subject '^"iou 
nurse your child ? I nearly died of laughter T>o j*cm 
imagine that I should cousent to anything so ridiculous ? 
What old Wives have been putting this idea into j^our 
head ? The child bom ^vas Louis d Epina> 

Not only did Madame dTEpiaay refrain from nursing 
him but she tried to please her husband in another 
and totally diScrent way like him she threw herself 
headlong into soacty and a life of pleasure she 
104 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


became the mtimate fnend of the Pnnce de Conti’s 
mistress, of Mademoiselle d’Ette and her lover, the 
Chevalier de Valory, of the actor Francoeur. She 
countenanced the liaison between her young and 
spnghtly cousin, Madame d’Houdetot, and Monsieur 
St de Lambert ; she considered Madame Maupeon 
justified m boxmg the ears of a husband whom she did 
not love for pestermg her when she was dressmg, and 
she accepted friendly lessons m harmony and com- 
position from the rich and captivatmg Monsieur 
Dupm de Francueil, a farmer-general like her husband, 
and an accomplished type of agreeable gentleman of 
the eighteenth century. 

But these means were no more successful than her 
first idea She, who only went mto society m order 
to be with her husband, scarcely ever met him. “ My 
husband is the man of whom I see least ”, she wrote 
” I used to go mto society to please him, and now I 
am driven there , I cannot be alone any longer , 
and I cannot bear to thmk of my husband, because his 
behaviour is breakmg my heart ” Monsieur d'Epmay 
was, m fact, making himself more and more notorious 
m connection with the two sisters Vem^re He was 
even brazen enough to mstall them both m the village 
adjoimng La Chevrette, while his wife, his father, 
his aunt and the many friends whom they entertamed 
were m residence. The amount which Monsieur 
d’Epmay spent on these two women and the scandal 
caused by their presence were so great that the 
Munster bamshed hun to Poitou Previous to this, 
m August, 1747, Madame d’Epmay had given buth 
to a second child, a gnl, who died a short tune after- 
wards 


105 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


forced to recogniEe that her husband hpd deceived her, 
contracted debts, and spent considerable sums of 
money on a dancer at the Operti, Genevieve Qaude 
Rainteau called de Veni^, ravishingly pretty, 
but so unintelligent that she was nirjc named ' la 
BeUe ei U BiU 


Madame d Epinay s love survived this discoveiy 
She still hoped to win back her husband Had he not 
often told her that men did not love paid women and 
that the only woman to whom they cleave is the one 
to whom they give their name and who is the mother 
of their children ? Now it was just at this time that 
Madame d'Epinay herself was expecting to become 
a mother She retired to la Chevrette the magnificent 
family estate of the de Bellegardes in order to mahe 
preparations in seclusion for the coming event and to 
think more of the bdoved husband who ttbs on 
circmt as fanner-general for the first time for a period 
of not less than six months 


When the time drew near for the birth of her child 


Madame d’Epmay resolved to nurse it herself and 
make it more her own and In this way tighten the bond 
which united her to her husband Had not Rousseau 
inspired all fond mothers with this desire ? But this 
is what her husband wrote on the subject ‘ Vou 


nuTBc your child ? I nearly died of laughter Do jou 
imagine that I should consent to anythmg so ndiculous ? 
What old wives have been putting this idea into >001 


bead ? The child bom was Louis d Epinay 

Not only did Madame d Epiaaj refrain from nursing 
Mm but she tried to please her husband in another 
and totally diflerent way Iflce him she threw herself 
headlong into society and a life of pleasure , she 


104 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


too, had a charming face, was good at all forms of 
exercise, and he seemed so land. So Madame d’Epmay 
confided all her troubles to him and Monsieur de 
Francueil offered to the disillusioned little wife a 
pure and disinterested fnendship " I shall be able 
to prove ”, wrote Madame d'Epmay in her diary, 
“ that one can have the strongest and tenderest 
feelmgs for a man and still be faithful to one’s duties ” 
Yes, with a strong will one can But Madame 
d’Epmay could not. After being violently angry 
one evening with Monsieur de Francueil for his bold 
overtures she 3uelded to him the next daj^ “ I want 
to do my duty ”, she wrote in her diarj'^, ” but a passion 
stronger than reason and virtue combined intoxicates 
me, drags me along with it and brings me into 
continual conflict with myself ” 

Monsieur de Francueil was a delicate and fond 
lover, but exceedmgly fickle Although his love for 
Madame d’Epmay was the most serious m his life, he 
deceived her after three years, as her husband had 
deceived her after six months . . and with 

the same woman l Madame d’Epmay at this penod 
suffered the most cruel mortifications and the greatest 
wearmess of spint. Calumny exaggerated her fault, 
and several doors were closed agamst her All the 
men who were fEiscmated by her eyes and attracted 
by her charm considered themselves at liberty to tell 
her so in the most unambiguous language The young 
women m whose virtue she had believed disclosed them- 
selves to her as fnvolous flirts Several even dragged 
her along with them to cover up their mtrigues and she, 
even more weak with herself than with others, con- 
tmued to see Francueil, who earned on his deception 

107 



MADAME D’EPINAy 


Bat about this time Madame d'Epmay s love for her 
husband was on the wane Notwithstanding the 
immense tenderness of her nature it was impossible 
that her love should stand against the contmual humih 
ations inflicted by her husband his lies his follies 
and his fantastic extravagance which threatened 
to min their child When Monsieur d Epinay returned 
from circuit in 1748, his wife was merely bored at 
having to feign a pleasure which the did not feel 
A painful Alness which attanhed her sometime after 
her husband s return, and to which he himself was 
no stranger, ended all intimacy between them In 
future only social ties kept them together Financial 
ties also were almost severed by a monetary separation, 
rendered all the more necessary as Madame d 'Epinay 
on the death of the Comte de Preux mhented the whole 
of her uncle s fortune From this time also her father 
in law tried to benefit her as much as possible to the 
detriment of Monsieur d'Epmay, as transpired at his 
death which occurred some years later 

And now that Madame d'Epmay had broken the 
idol which had shed so warm a radiance over those first 
dreams of love and early jcars of married life she was 
stncken by the emptiness of her heart If this loving 
creature whose wAl had been kflled was 'to go on 
living she must have someone to lean on Her heart ^ 
could not carry the weight of its sontnv alone She 
must confide in a land and good friend who would 
restore her lost courage Mademoiselle d Ette urged 
her to seek such a fnend In Monsieur Dupin de 
FrancueO. Hod they not the same tastes for music 
for literature for art? And then bow talented he was ( 
How witty 1 How distinguished I He was handsome 
106 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


too, had a charming face, was good at all forms of 
exercise, and he seemed so kmd So Madame d’Epmay 
confided all her troubles to him and Monsieur de 
Francueil offered to the disillusioned little wife a 
pure and disinterested friendship. " I shall be able 
to prove ”, wrote Madame d'Epmay m her diary, 
” that one can have the strongest and tenderest 
feelmgs for a man and still be faithful to one’s duties ” 

Yes, with a strong will one can. But Madame 
d'Epmay could not After bemg violently angry 
one evemng with Monsieur de Francueil for his bold 
overtures she yielded to him the next day ” I want 
to do my duty ”, she wrote in her diary, ” but a passion 
stronger than reason and virtue combmed mtoxicates 
me, drags me along with it and bnngs me mto 
contmual conflict with myself.” 

Monsieur de Francueil was a delicate and fond 
lover, but exceedmgly fickle. Athough his love for 
Madame d’Epmay was the most senous m his life, he 
deceived her after three years, as her husband had 
deceived her after six months . and with 
the same woman l Madame d’Epmay at this penod 
suffered the most cruel mortifications and the greatest 
wearmess of spirit Calumny exaggerated her fault, 
and several doors were closed agamst her All the 
men who were fascmated by her eyes and attracted 
by her charm considered themselves at liberty to tell 
her so m the most unambiguous language The young 
women m whose virtue she had believed disclosed them- 
selves to her as fnvolous flurts Several even dragged 
her along with them to cover up them mtngues and she, 
even more weak with herself than with others, con- 
tmued to see Francueil, who earned on his deception 

107 



MADAME D'EPINAY 


while remaining a perfect gentleman m his attitude 
towards her 

A more Tm 3 ust calumny than the others helped 
Madame d Epinay to emerge from this slough Her 
young sister-m-law dc JuUy whose love-intngues 
she had covered up m spite of herself had just died 
at the age of twenty-eight, earned off by smallpox. 
When at the pomt of death the young woman asked 
her sister-in law to destroy all the papers in her desk 
tell tale evidence of her flirtations Madame d Epinay 
bnmt everythmgnnread bat the day after the funeral 
Monsieur de JuUy accused her of having talcen ad\’an 
tage of his wife s death to bum the account of debts 
which Monsieur dTEpinay had admitted he oiiS’cd his 
brother de Jolly dTplnay Appearances were agamst 
Madame d Epinay all the more so as she neither wuld 
nor could defend herself and because it Tvas'^vell 
known that m spite of their separation she still go-ve 
her husband financial help m times of crises 

But there was one man in Paris whp behoved in her 
innocence and who fought in a duel to defend her 
This man was Gnmm He bad come to Pans os 
tutor to the Comte de Schomberg s children but had 
soon taken his place in the highest society and become 
an habitu6 at the salons of the Due d Orlians Baron 
d Holbach and Madame Geoffrin v bile at the same 
time forming a dose friendship with Diderot and 
establishing very sympathetic relations with nil the 
Encyclopsedists and philosophers of the daj His 
powerful Intellect reason sense of justice and per 
spicadU which ha^'o been so descivcdl> praised b> 
Saint-Bcuvc made him di\'mc the Innocence of this 
woman who put up no defence He was wounded in 
io8 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


the arm in the duel which he fought on her behalf, 
and as compensation, begged permission to call on 
Madame d’Esclavelles and Madame d'Epinay. Rous- 
seau undertook to prefer the request, which was 
enthusiastically granted, and when Gnmm called on 
the mother and daughter they overwhelmed him with 
their gratitude 

So began that friendship between Gnmm and 
Madame d’Epmay which made a new woman of her 
On the fourth day after his first visit, Gnmm had the 
satisfaction of leammg that he had not been deceived 
in Madame d’Epmay A lawyer had just recovered 
among his papers the d’Epmay- JuUy account which 
Madame d’Epmay had been accused of treacherously 
burning 

After being admitted to Madame d’Epmay’s con- 
fidence, Gnmm very qmckly gauged her He per- 
ceived her talent, her taste, her delicacy, her grace , 
but also her vacillation and indiscretion, and the lack 
of gmding pnnciple in her conduct He resolved 
to be her good genius , to help her to strengthen 
ever5rthmg that was excellent in her character, but also 
to modify that which left much to be desired So 
he invited a confidence, which he gained completely, 
and from that day became Madame d’Epmay’s coun- 
sellor and friend before changing a little later mto her 
lover 

Madame d’Epmay’s new fnend was totally unhke 
any of the men by whom up till' now she had been 
surrounded Gauffcourt, the publisher, who was 
very mtimate with Gnmm, mck-named him " the 
white 'tyrant ”, and the Encyclopasdists claimed that 
his fnendship was despotic So Gnmm did not lull 

109 



MADAME D’EPINAY 

while remahung a perfect gentleman m his attitude 
towards her 

A more unjust caltomny than the others helped 
Madame d Epinay to emerge from this slough Her 
young sister m-law de Jully whose love-mtrigues 
she had covered up in spite of herself had just died 
at the age of twenty-eight earned off by smallpox. 
When at the pomt of death the young woman asked 
her sister m4aw to destroy all the papers m her desk 
teU tale evidence of her flirtations Madame d Epinay 
burnt everything unread but the day after the funeral 
Monsieur de Jully accused her of having taken advan 
tags of his wife s death to bum the account of debts 
which Monsieur d Epmay had admitted he oi^xd his 
brother de Jully d'Epmay Appearances were against 
Madame d Epinav all the more so as she neither would 
nor could defend herself and because it was ■•wtll 
known that in spite of their separation she still gave 
her husband financial help in times of crises 

But there was one man m Pans whp beheved in kev 
innocence and who fought m a duel to defend her 
This man ivas Grimm He had come to Pans os 
tutor to the Comte de Schomberg's children but had 
soon taken his place m the highest society and become 
an habltui at the salons of the Due d Orliiaiis Baron 
d Holbach and Madame Geoffnn while at the same 
tune forming a close friendship with Diderot and 
establishing very sympathetic relations with all the 
Encydopiedists and philasopheis of the daj His 
powerful intellect reason sense of justice and per 
splcadty which have been so deservedly praised bj 
Saint-Beuve made him divine the innocence of this 
woman who put up no defence He was wounded In 
loS 



MADAME D’EPIMAV 


the ann in the duel which ho fought on l or hoha 
and as compensation, begged penntss.on to <atl u 
Madame d’Esclavelles and Madame d’l-.pmay. Rou- 
seau undertook to prefer the request, wh.eh v.as 
enthusiastically granted, and when C.nmni railed mi 
the mother and daughter they ovenvhehned him wtlh 
their gratitude. 

So began that fnendship between Grimm and 
Madame d'Epmay which made a new woman of her 
On the fourth day after his first visit, Grimm had the. 
satisfaction of learning that he had not liccn dcct wed 
m Madame d’Epmay A lawyer had ju-^t recovered 
among his papers the d’Epinay-Jully accotint which 


Madame d’Epmay had been accused of trcachcrou'sly 
bummg 

After bemg admitted to Madame d’Epmay’s con- 
fidence, Gnmm very quickly gauged her. lie per- 
ceived her talent, her taste, her delicacy, licr grace ; 
but also her vacillation and indiscretion, and the lack 
of guiding prmciple m her conduct He resolved 
to be her good genius , to help her to strengthen 
everything that was excellent m her character, but aho 
to modify that which left much to be desired So 
he mvited a confidence, which he gained completely, 
and from that day became Madame d’Epmay’s conn' 

sellor and fnend before changing a little later into licr 
lover 


my of the men hy whom up till now she had been 





MADAME D’EPINAY 

Madame d Epmdy witb flattering compliments orhoUo w 
insipidities 

He offered her for the most pert advice and if his 
counsels were always excellent they were also often 
severe and painfuL For instance, when Madame 
d Epmay without first consulting Gnmm offered 
J^nssean hospitality at The Hfirmitage on the estate 
of La Chevrette Gnmm immediately xnote to her 
You have done him a bad service in 
giving him the Hermitage but you have done yourself 
a far worse service If you refuse but once to be al his 
command he wiU accuse yon of havmg solicited him to 
live with YOU- Already I see the germ of his accusa 
tlons m the tone of the letters which you have shown 
me What perspicacity but at the same time 
what firmness this letter reveals I Just at first Madame 
d Epmay was perhaps annoyed by its dictatorial 
tone but some months later she must have been 
struck by its prophetic troth- For Rousseau installed 
at The Hermitage on the pth of April 175b did 
in fact accuse Madame d Epmay in the spnng of the 
following year of havmg wntteu an anoniunous letter 
to ifonsieur d'Houdetot to prevent Rousseau from 
becoming Jfadame d Houdetot s lover This infamous 
accusation was all the more unjust in that Madame 
d Epmay had done everything to exculpate Madame 
d Houdetot and in an eloquent letter to Gnmm had 
neglected nothing to prove Madaiuc d Houdetot s 
complete innocence 

The lies m The Con/esiions of Jean Jacques Rousseau 
did Madame d Epinay o\cn more harm Indeed 
manyhave misjudged her by reason o! these 

Gnmm was stiU more dictatorial uitb Msdarae 


zio 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


d’Epma}^ in matters relating to Monsieur de Francueil. 
He forced his friend to break definitely \\ath the man 
who had deceived her, and to cease even to know him 
socially. " not resenting certain treatment ”, 
he said, ” you fail in the respect which you owe to your- 
self ” Or again : ” I have often told you that you 
do not feel insults as you should ” "I found it very 
difficult ”, said Madame d'Epinay herself, ” to forget 
his harshness, despite all the pains he took to atone 
for it " 

But if Gnmm was harsh with Madame d’Epinay, 
whom he esteemed more than anyone else had done, 
it was to make her worthier of herself ” How I 
value those who like you and recognize your worth ! ” 
he wrote to her in all the sincenty of his soul and the 
soundness of his judgment Madame d’Epinay, 
moreover, completely realized the value of Gnmm's 
friendship She was thoroughly alive to the fact that 
his manner of loving her differed wholly from that of 
Monsieur d’Epmay or Monsieur de Francueil Soon 
her poor bruised spirit revived under the influence of 
this strong friendship, and gradually Gnmm perceived 
that he could restore her to her natural self Nature 
had never intended her to lead this irregular hfe into 
which she had been dragged for several years by her 
husband’s misconduct and the loose habits of the penod 
Her innate dehcacy, goodness and refinement, her 
power of observation, sense of justice and her natural 
taste for hterature designed her for a far nobler and 
more mterestmg career ' 

Madame d’Epmay’s state of health helped Gnmm 
m his task of re-creation She was suffermg so distress- 
,iiigly from that terrible illness which was one day to 


III 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


cany her ofi, that she deaded to go to Switzerland 
to consult the celebrated doctor Tronchin* Thu tool 
her from the miheu which had done her so much harm 
and left her freer to yield to the beneficent influence 
of Grunm Monsieur d Epinay wanted to accompany 
his wife to Switzerland so that he might appear to hni'c 
broken with the Vcm&res and by this ruse obtain further 
gifts from the woman whom he had already nearly rmned 
indeed at the tune of her journey Madame d Epinay 
had no more than an income of seventeen thousand 
francs The husband and wife with only two or three 
servants left Pans on October 30th, 1757 On the 
journey Madame d Epinay was at the point of death 
but when once she had amved at Geneva she was 
greatly soothed by the medical treatment Tronchin a 
skill and science were to ease her pain for sei'cnJ 
years 

On the i6th of November Monsieur d Epinay left 
his wife and henceforward Madame d Epinay could 
divide her time between looking after her health her 
correspondence with Gnmm and her nev. Swiss 
friends of whom among many Voltaire was naturally 
the most important Voltaire liked her exceedingly 
‘ May this cureed north wind * he wrote spare 
your great black eyes and 5mur poor nerves The 
beauty of those great black eyes as well as of her mind 
liavo been sung by Voltaire in verse and prose and as 
long as Madame d Epinay remained in Switzerland 
he neglected no opportumty of having this beautiful 
philosopher as he called her with him as much as 
possible. It IS but fitting to say that Tronchin very 
often accompanied his interesting jiatient when she 
dmed out and that Voltaire bj his pressing in\ntation$ 

XJ2 



MADAME D’EPINAY 


to Madame d’Epmay increased his chances of seeing 
Tronchm/ who would no longer obey the summons of 
his ‘ ‘ malade imaginmre " But , even without T ronchm , 
Madame d'Epinay had a great attraction for Voltaire 

But it was Gnmm who filled her thoughts “ I am 
sure Gnmm despises me ”, she would say over and 
over agam , and this mournful obsession tortured 
her She would have liked, too, to convince Diderot 
of the good mtentions of her heart — Diderot, Gnmm’s 
best fnend, who had persisted in his belief that she 
was a schemer ' Afar of£, Gnmm sensed her sufferings , 
and, on hearmg that Tronchm wanted to keep his 
patient for two years, he made up his rtund to leave 
Pans and ]om her 

Her ]oy over Gnnim’s amval was so great that she 
seemed to be cured of her sickness Love had restored 
her health He remained with her for eight months 
and dunng those eight months, Madame d’Epmay was 
thoroughly happy Never before had she known 
a happiness so sure, so complete, so exhilaratmg 
as this which she owed to Gnmm She seemed to love 
for the first time in her life Gnmm profited by the 
love with which he mspired her to transform her into 
the lady of his dreams He encouraged her hterary 
tastes, her gifts of observation and cnticism, m short, 
everything that was good m her, so effectually that 
he made of her a woman above the ordmary 

When Madame d’Epmay returned to Pans m October, 
1759, she herself marvelled that she could ever have 
taken any pleasure m the society of her former fnends 
Henceforward she changed her set She sought to 
collect the thmkers and philosophers around her, 
the senous people whom Gnmm had taught her to hke 

113 


8 



MADAMF D’EPINAY 

She began energetically and sincerely the task of 
wntmg her admirable Metntnts, and "when the danghter 
to ■whom she had given birth m 1750, and who had 
mamed Monsieur de Balxmice made her a grandmother 
Madame dEpinay earnestly begged that she might 
have the arduous pleasure of educating her grand 
danghter 

Madame d Epmay at this period was nearly ruined 
for her fortune whidi had been almost entirely 
squandered by her husband was now complete!} 
dissipated through the follies of her son Louis d Epmay 
But the equabihty of her temper remained ummpaiied- 
Often and sometimes to its advantage, she took the 
place of Gnmra and Master m editing the Coumcr 
LitUraire addressed by them to the Pnnces of Northern 
Europe, She wrote an admirable hook for the child 
to whose education ahe devoted herself full of 
tenderness psychology and artistic delicacy This 
book gained the Monthyon pnre m January 1783 

Three months later this woman whose life had been 
so hectic and broken died at Pans, completely ran- 
stated by the nobility of the last twenty three yean 
of her life Her husband only preceded her to the 
tomb by one year 

Madame d Epinay 5 Memoirs the veradty of which 
is estabhshed to-day arc the best refutation that 
postenty can have of the lies told b\ Rousseau Duclos 
and her other detractors AVhen ono rccognires how 
superficial and pleasure loving was the ^vD^^d in which 
ahe li%cd one ■wonders how it ■was possible for this 
■woman to react so coraplclely m the second part of her 
hfe against her past errors and to gi\e as she did 
such proofs of nobility and courage 
114 



ELEONORE DE JEAN DE MANVILLE, 

COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


EleOnore DE Jean de MAN\aLLE, who later became 
Comtesse de Sabran, wasbom m March , 1749 Although 
spring that year was ushered m with sunshme and 
dowers, the atmosphere about the cradle of the new- 
born baby, a pretty httle girl, was heavy with gloom 
and sorrow The mother, Madame de Jean de 
ManviUe, nie de Montigny, one of the most magnificent 
and most admired women of her day, had paid with 
her life for the happmess of bemg a mother for the 
second time For two whole years she had passionately 
longed for a girl to console her for the feeble-mmdedness 
of her eldest daughter When at last the gift, which 
she had so ardently desired, was bestowed, she had 
to leave this world without knowing whether the 
new-comer imght not also be stricken with the same 
affliction as her sister 

The baby, deprived of its mother, remained under 
the care of a selfish father, whose affection was confined 
to those who ministered to his pleasure The two girls 
who could give him nothing (the eldest would always 
reqmre as much attention as an infant) had, therefore, 
no attractions for their father So Monsieur Jean de 
Manvdle hastened to seek in a second marriage the 
joy and amusements which he considered indispensable 
to his well-bemg ,Soon the two orphans were not 
only neglected m their stepmother's house, but 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


ill treated as vreU, Thor father did not trouble himself 
about them at all and the new Madame Jean de 
ManviUe endeavoured to make the yo un g girls for 
whom she had not the slightest affection as an 
expense and as httle of a nuisance as possible. 

Their maternal grandmother Madame de Montigny 
in spite of her age, could not bear to sec the children of 
her family degraded in this manner She begged her 
son m-law to commit the httle girls to her charge 
and soon the two orphans were placed under ther 
grandmother's roof Nevertheless, Eldonore and her 
sister were not to enjoy at their grandmother s side the 
tenderness of which the little invahd stood so mudi 
in need and for which the loving heart of the youngest 
craved There was nothing tender about Madame 
de Montigny She was a cold dignified woman 
with a proud air of distmction who considered that 
seventy and an abstinence from any manifestation 
of feeling were the essential prmaples of education 
and It was in accordance with these ideas that she 
bronght up Iier grandchfldren She even delighted 
m spoiling many of their pleasure# believing that 
disappointments would help to elevate their characters 
One day Eltenore who was out walking with her 
grandmother met her favounte uncle in the street on 
his way to bring ber a beautiful bunch of artificial 
flowers The child adored flowers The gift of this 
bunch caused her intense joy which shoued itself in 
the expression on her face and the sparkle in her e>c. 
Her gnmdmotlier deemed It tm excellent opportunity 
to inflict auffenng on the httle girl She ordered her to 
throw the bunch awav at once under pretex of the 
smell of tlic flowers making her feel cxcecdinglj unwell 
1x6 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


Eldonore obeyed without having the light to remark 
that since they were artificial flowers they could not 
have any scent She dared not even let fall the tears 
which gathered m her eyes when her grandmother 
gave the cruel order 

The gnef felt by the little girl m connection with a 
piece of work which she was preparing for her father's 
birthday was, perhaps, even more bitter. In spite of 
Monsieur de Jean's indifference to her, EMonore was^ 
devotedly fond of him As soon as she considered that 
she could draw passably, she took the greatest delight 
in workmg for months with the most courageous 
application on a huge sketch which she mtended to 
present to her father on his birthday. The sketch 
was nearly fimshed and Monsieur de Manville's birthday 
close at hand, when one evening Madame de Montigny 
entered the apartment where Eleonore was workmg 
Without sa3ang a word her grandmother went up to 
the sketch, looked at it and tore it m pieces. She 
then left the room as she had entered it, without 
addressmg a smgle word to her grandchild 

It was m this chilhng atmosphere, under the con- 
tinual menace of painful vexations, with no power over 
the disposal of her time or m the choice of readmg, 
that EMonore de Jean reached a mamageable age 
Her dismal adolescence had only been lightened by 
two years passed as a boarder m a convent, and by 
the kmdness of her maternal uncle, who cherished a 
very warm affection for her EEonore's education was 
now fimshed, and her family desired to see her married 
without delay. As she had a large fortune and a beauty 
as piquant as it was uncommon, admirers thronged 
round her 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


ill treated as well Thor father did not trouble hnnself 
about them at all and the new Madame Jean de 
Manvillfi endeavonred to make the young girls for 
whom she had not the sbghtest afiechon as xTr>a)\ an 
expense and as httle of a nuisance as possible. 

Their maternal grandmother, Madame de Montigny 
in spite of her age could not bear to see the chddren of 
her family degraded m this manner She begged her 
son-m law to connmt the httle girls to her charge, 
and soon the two orphans were placed under their 
grandmother’s roof Nevertheless Eldonore and her 
sister were not to enjoy at their grandmother's side the 
tenderness of which the little invabd stood so much 
in need and for which the loving heart of the youngest 
craved. There was nothing tender about Madame 
de Montigny She was a cold dignibed woman 
with a proud air of distinction who considered that 
seventy and an abstinence from any manifestation 
of feeling were the essential pnnaples of education 
and it was m accordance with these ideas that she 


bronght up her grandchildren She even delighted 
in spoiling many of their pleasures bdicmng that 
disappomtments would help to elevate their characters 
One day El^cmore who was out walking with her 
grandmother met her favourite uncle in the street on 
his way to bnng her a beautiful bunch of artificial 
flowers The child adored flowers. The gift of this 


bunch caused her intense joy which sho%\cd itsdf m 
the expression on her face and the sparUc in her e>*c. 
Her grandmother deemed it an excellent opportunh} 
to inflict suffenng on the little girl She ordered her to 
throw the bunch awav at once under pretev of the 
smell of the flowers making her feel c.xceedingl> unwcK 


Il6 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

Eleonore obeyed without having the light to remark 
that since they were artificial flowers they could not 
have any scent She dared not even let fall the tears 
which gathered m her eyes when her grandmother 
gave the cruel order 

The gnef felt by the little girl in connection with a 
piece of work which she was preparmg for her father’s 
birthday was, perhaps, even more bitter. In spite of 
Monsieur de Jean’s indifference to her, Eleonore was^ 
devotedly fond of him As soon as she considered that 
she could draw passably, she took the greatest delight 
in workmg for months with the most courageous 
apphcation on a huge sketch which she intended to 
present to her father on his birthday. The sketch 
was nearly fimshed and Monsieur de ManviUe’s birthday 
close at hand, when one evenmg Madame de Montigny 
entered the apartment where Eleonore was working 
Without saymg a word her grandmother went up to 
the sketch, looked at it and tore it m pieces. She 
then left the room as she had entered it, without 
addressmg a smgle word to her grandchild 
It was m this chdlmg atmosphere, under the con- 
tinual menace of painful vexations, with no power over 
the disposal of her time or in the choice of readmg, 
that Eleonore de Jean reached a mamageable age. 
Her dismal adolescence had only been lightened by 
two years passed as a boarder in a convent, and by 
the kmdness of her maternal uncle, who cherished a 
very warm affection for her EMonore’s education was 
now fimshed, and her family desued to see her mamed 
without delay As she had a large fortune and a beauty 

as piquant as it was uncommon, admirers thronged 
round her. 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

The boldest amongst them was a sort of greylieard 
Tartufe, posing as a yonng lover who under pretext 
of being bound to Monsieur de Jean by ties of old 
fnendship aspired to be chosen as his daughter s 
husband- But he was speedily to fhtx.f >v er that 
El^onore had very little hking for Thereupon as 
all he troubled about was the fortune he took advan 
tage of the decay of Monsieur de Jean s mental faculties 
to dominate his will which bad always been weak, and 
obtained from him the hand of the poor unbedle. 
Everything was arranged for this revolting mamage 
when only a few days before the date fixed for the 
ceremony the unhappy young giri died leaving her 
lover overwhelmed by the loss of her dowry 

But our cavalier was not long m changing his ndnd 
again El^onore s dowry was almost doubled by her 
sisters death it was certainly worth while making 
every effort to wm her Moreover no-one seemed 
to have the protection of the young gui s interests at 
heart She herself gentle shy accustomed to suffer 
and to obey without protest would be ea^ to dornmatc 
and to influence So our cavalier set himself the task 
of forcing Mademoiselle de Jean to many bun But 
she whom he had thought so tractable was not to be 
subjugated- Nothing would make her dcMatc from 
her formal refusal not only to marry him but tvtn 
to listen to the most inoffensive of his explanations and 
entreaties 

Our cavaher definitely turned down each one of the 
numerous coxcombs and good for nothings who 
revolved round El^onore s do^v^y thought the game 
won But suddenly this young girl of nineteen who 
until now had ne\‘er been allowed to have a will of her 
1x8 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


own, who had scarcely had more than a glimpse of 
society and its pleasures, who, it might have been 
imagined, would be intoxicated by the call of youth and 
by the pleasures now for the first time withm her 
reach, rejected all these young men with their preten- 
sions to love and admiration, and offered her hand to 
a hero of sixty-mne 

This hero was the Comte Admiral de Sabran. Ele- 
onore would have no-one else as a husband When 
the Admiral, troubled by the dispanty of their years, 
observed to her that m age he was more smted to be 
her father than her husband, El^onore ecstatically 
rephed that she admired him so much that he had no age 
in her eyes, she was bhnd to everything but his worth 

He was, mdeed, noted for his valour In his early 
youth he had distmgmshed himself as commander 
of the Content In 1756, he had largely contributed 
to the defeat of the English Admiral, John Byng, off 
Mmorca When on the Centaure, he had been attacked 
by four British ships simultaneously and had kept 
them at bay by fightmg hke a hon, only yieldmg to 
superior numbers His ment was so weU-known, 
that on retummg from captivity m England, Loms XV 
signified his wish to present him to the Queen himself 
More than this, the King in making the presentation, 
was pleased to recall the fact that through his illustrious 
ancestry the Comte was ahied to the House of France 

He IS one of us,” said the Kmg, almost famiharly 
The Comte de Sabran was, m fact, descended from a 
sister of Marguerite de Provence, wife of Loms IX 

Nevertheless, El^onore’s uncle was alarmed at the 
thought of so old a husband for her, however dis- 
tingmshed he might be Urged by the love which he 

119 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

bore for his niece he pointed out that the Admiral had 
no money and that he was going on for seventy I 
shall be everything to him he will love and protect 
me was thesole answer which Monsieur de Montigny 
drew from the young girl 

So the marriage took place ahd the Comte de Sabran 
made hia young wife the tenderest the most devoted 
and the best of husbands His face formerly stem 
was henceforth all smiles and sweetness, for he desired 
to surround his youthful companion with everything 
which was agreeable and pleasant With him 
El^onore was happy for tlm first time in her life 
she know the restful mvigoratuig joy of bang loved 
and appreciated. 

The Comte was not only delighted with but also 
proud of his young Countess so much so, that he was 
impatient to mtroduce her at Court He lale^r that 
she would be admired if not as profoundly as he 
admired her at least for her beauty, which was so 
different from that of all the other women and for 
the exquisite charm which unconsciously emanated 
from her 

El^onore de Sabran charmed both minds and hearts 
and was astonished if anyone told her so Thus it was 
her candour her naturalness und the freshness of her 
mind more than anything else which enraptured the 
Court She was unlike any of the other women who 
appeared there. She seemed to bring with her that 
honesty frankness innocence and wholesome j'outh 
which is unacquainted with artifice and dissimulation 
This Impression was stiU further enhanced b> her 
shyness In spite of the gushing and fiatlcring 
compliments showered on her at the very outset her 
120 




COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

studied Latm with the Atib£ DeUiUe. Turgot m logical 
and lengthy talks opened her mind to economic and 
social questions Malesherbes one of the best fnends 
of the house initiated her mto the intricaaes of the 
law and the activities of the philanthropists Mon- 
sieur de Sabran never ceased to admire his wife and to 
bless the fate which had given her to huu. In 1771, 
th&r happmess was augmented by the immense 
]oy of a httle daughter who was declared by everyone 
to be Wrvehously beautiful Less than two year* 
later the little gui had a brother who received at 
baptism the name of Eh^ At the birth of his 
son Monsieur de Sabran, trembling with happoneis 
exclaimed with emotion I have now nothing more 
to wish for Each day he enjoyed more passionately 
the possession of his precious Countess and of his two 
dear httle children, of whom both he and his wife were 
equally proud 

But the years began to tcU on Monsieur de Sabran 
The Countess hod now to render him a thousand little 
services to surround him with care and precautions 
as he had done her during the first months of thdr 
mamage, ElAinore would scarcely leave her husband 
for his health caused her anxiety But a great 61*001 
was to lead hex to modify this resolution 

Loins XV died on the 10th of May, 1774 and his 
grandson who succeeded him was to be crowned at 
Rheims as Lo\^ XVI Madame de Sabran s numerous 
friends at Court m particular iladarae de Marsan 
Madame Clotlnldc s governess, stro\'e to get the 
Countess chosen as one of the ladies in the suite of the 
Bnncesscsv.howeTcaccoinpanyingthe King and Queen 
Mone-Antoinette to Rbeiins The honour was great 
\ 122 
i 




COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


to Anm the home of Monsignetn de Sabran her 
htisband s nephew There she remained for a whole 
year, and would have prolonged her <tay had it not 
been for the earnest entreaties of her friends Thej 
considered that El^onore do Sabran, young fascmatiDg 
witty as she was, ought not to give herself up to idle 
regrets for a hnshand whom without bang aware of 
it,sheiDDtumedmoreasadanghterthanasawiie, Her 
friends prevailed on her and at the beginning of the 
summeir of 1776 the Comtesse de Sabran settled in 
Pans m the elegant house oi Bouret, the finanoex 
which she had just bought 

This house was situated in the Rue du Faubourg, 
Sainte Honors quite near the Champs Elys^es 
Bladame de Sabran invested it with her own individ 
uahty by personally sapenntending with her pure 
artistic and ongmal taste the alterations in Bouret s 
magnificent decorations These decorations were too 
ornate and massive to satisfy her mnatc sense of bcaulj 
and harmony 

A huge park with green lawns extended at the back 
of the dwelling This park was at once the dehgbt 
of the children and the charm of the house It was from 
this home, which she loved as a fnend, that Madame 
de Sabran set out one winter evemng in 1777 to attend 
a ffite at the house of the l^lar^diale de Luxembourg 


The young Coimtess for some tunc past had been 
going mto soaety again Although no-one could 
ever accuse her of the least coquetry that evening 
urged by some hidden unpulsc she des'oted spcaal 
attention to her beautiful undri hair and to her dress 


which was as simple as it svas artistic. EliJonorc dc 
Sabran never used rouge at on epoch when all tbe 





COMTESSE DE SABRAN ^ 


women of her world laid it on thickly But the 
mischievous ghnt in her eyes, the grace with which 
she moved her little feet as she walked or danced, 
her naturalness, her simplicity, her distinction and the 
intelligence that streamed from her, compelled and 
maintained qmte another land of admiration than that 
called forth by rouge and powder One of the 
Marechale de Luxembourg’s guests, her own grand- 
nephew, was deeply stirred on this particular evemng 
As Eldonore de Sabran, crowned with her magnificent 
hair and adorned only by her personal attractions, 
passed through , Madame de Luxembourg’s sumptu- 
ously furnished salons, the Chevaher de Boufiiers, 
one of the most popular men of his day among women, 
fell madly m love with the charms of the young 
Countess 

The Chevalier de Boufiiers was very well known and 
much criticized by his contemporaries His freaks 
had on several occasions shocked the people of his 
world , his capricious and numerous amours had 
caused tears to be shed by many a woman and provided 
entertaining matter for many a conversation , his 
bitmg, witty verse had wounded more than one love of 
a day Was Eleonore de Sabran going to be the latest 
victim of the Chevaher’s fickle and nuschievous 
affections ? 

Those of the Marechale de Luxembourg’s guests 

who observed Monsieur de Boufflers’ emotion when 

/ 

he saw the young widow, beheved so But at the 
sight of Eleonore the Don Juan of yesterday experienced 
a feehng qmte foreign to him It was not this woman’s 
beauty which captivated him It was something far 
more elusive, more transcendent than a physical 

125 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

sensation which caused the tumult in his sonL He 
was caught up in an atmosphere of freshness of pure 
delight of rapturous and lofty sentiments sudi as 
no other woman had inspired before For this reason 
the Chevaher de BoufBers' new passion was quite 
unlike any which he had previously felt To win the 
affections of this beantifal woman he was ready to do 
what he had never done namely to adopt her ways 
to share both her tastes and her desires 
The very nert day after the Ifar^chalo de Luxem 
bourg^s reception Bonffiers obtamed an mtroduction 
to the Countess at her house through one of his fnends 
the Pnnee de Ligne, Having received permission to 
call agam he sought merely to interest and stimulate 
the mmd and talents of the woman whom he esteemed 
too highly to venture on a declaration of Icn-e It 
IS true that when wnting to her he observed that if 
he possessed her talent for painting he would paint a 
portrait of himself kneeling at her feet and that from 
among the verses he had composed ho sang her n 
roundelay of which the first quatrain ran 
Beauty an air 

These things are naught to roe. 

Who wouIq be fair 

like her like her must be. * 

But these were exceedingly mild hints for the eighteenth 
century and especially for the Chc%'aher do Bou/Hors 
In reality so that he might often meet the Countess 
and pass several hours daily in her soactj and enjo) 
her picturesque varied and animated conversation so 
full of sympathy malice and wit which Jlada/nc \'jg!?c 

* ** Etrt JoJit /trt bflU 

C* tin ctia 

JJ /amt lift commtt etIU 
CamMu ttUr f lu rtfUi / 

iz6 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


Le Bran has descnbed as "A magic-lantem of ideas”, 
the Chevaher joined in the course of Latin lessons 
which the Abbe Delille had begun to give Elconore 
dunng the admiral’s life-time. Then he took an interest 
in the children, giving the Countess very shrewd advice 
in regard to them ; he began to love the two little 
ones, for their mother’s sake in the first instance, and 
afterwards for their ow Later, he took to practising 
music ivith Madame de Sabran and even, a temble 
ordeal for one who was never still for a second, sat to the 
young woman for his portrait. 

Tins was, however, too high a tnal for the Chevaher 
One morning when EMonore was getting ready for the 
sitting she discovered pinned to her easel some verses 
written by him which ended m the two following 
lines 

“When my portrait is a speaking likeness 
It will tell you that I love you ! 

The definite declaration of love which the Chevalier 
had so long refrained from uttenng escaped through 
the medium of his pen Now the Countess knew that 
he whom she desired as a friend, with whom she 
ardently wished to be able freely to exchange views 
and ideas, whom she wanted to bind to her by 
reciprocal feehngs of affection and trust, was consumed 
with a passion which frightened her and which she had 
no desire to share She realized that he only dehghted 
m her rmnd m order the more easily to reach her heart 
She reahzed also that she had spared no pains to make 
herself charming to the Chevaher, to have lengthy 
conversations with him and to welcome him with 

^ " Quand mon portrait sera parlant, 

II vous dir a qtte je vous aime ( " 

127 



COBfTESSE DE SABRAN 


smiles which would never have been half so winning 
or fnendiy in the case of another But Sionore de 
Sabran did not want to be the slave of love. She 
fought With nil the strength of her will and her love 
of independence against a sentunent whoso exacting 
demands torments and complicafaons she foresaw 
She felt that the woman who had no lover was far more 
mistress of her joys and troubles than the who 

loved and was loved. She told herself that more often 
than not passion Inflicted great suffering and brou^t 
but little happiness So she deaded to harden her 
heart against the love of the Oifivalior de Boufflers 
to treat him gently as one trtats the ungratifiable 
whims of a dehcate child but to give him no sort of 
hope Chaste and mespenenced the Comtesse de 
Sabran thought it would be easy to act in accordance 
with her mtention But the mystenous aching \oid 
which she already felt m her heart might have warned 
her that it was too late now to think of resistance. 
Love had invaded the heart of Eldonorc before she was 
aware of it 

But Madame de Sabran would not admit defeat To 
the Chevaher s declaration of love she replied with fbe 
counter proposal of a firm and wholesome fnendship 
She offered when the time should come for him to leave 
Pans and rejom his regiment to exchange letters with 
bun in which they would U\e complclelj In Ihar 
thoughts their feelings and their oplmons But in this 
c o rr e spondence there was not to be a single word of 
love. The Chevaher would call Madame de Sabran hi' 
sister and E163nore would call him her brother 
Both of them would speak to each oUicr like a 
much attached and dented brother and sister 
128 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


Each of them would thus be able to count on the sohd, 
profound, restful and disinterested affection of the other 
The Chevaher agreed to everything tliat the young 
woman wished, however little he himself might be 
satisfied Sometimes he told liimself that this fnend- 
sliip was but the first step towards Eldonore’s love, 
which he chenshed more and more each day ; some- 
times, on the contrary, discouraged and almost reduced 
to despair, he envisaged nothing but sadness and gloom 
for the future of tliis love It was on this account 
that he wrote from Normandy, where he was first 
quartered after parting from Madame de Sabran, 
then from Brittany, where he went next, letters full 
of dejection and of touching, sorrowful candour 

At tins period, the Comtesse de Sabran’s letters were 
much more lively, less intimate and less emotional 
than those of her fnend The young woman kept her 
word , she ivrote to the Chevaher as a sister But 
every time that she saw Boufflers, the struggle which 
she maintained against her love became less violent 
The Chevaher appealed to her more and more, because, 
although she did not reahze it, he supphed all the needs 
of her nature This woman who chose an old husband 
, out of admiration for the greatness of his mmd, had 
never known passion m her mamage ; she had 
venerated, tended and mourned the Admiral, but she 
had never felt for him the transports of love Never- 
theless, EMonore had a passionate nature She 
hungered for violent emotions and intoxicating 
raptures No ohe roused these in her more than the 
Chevaher de BoufiSers The same things attracted 
both ; he shared her tastes, and her dislike of all that 
was ordinary and vulgar Like her, he adored music, 

129 j 



COMTTSSn DU 5\BR\N* 


p-- — V 1,'J <'-c-Tr‘'- tl-a* wa^ arti'tic ard dii 
' Ec- — ' 'c thi b^calb tf e appcar- 

c' a 51 L’>- h'- had tbc diijwitirn of an 

ar? . aad l'-' h'-_a* c' atoiman Shoir^gni'od fhat 
h' ccaibta'd a.’ cc't'ai « aad that Ih^e ^^a' 
a-"' "a *0 ' — aVa crta'ar' t- ‘■aa-^ n~ cn earth 



. COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

Goomde Madame de Sabran had no valid excuse for 
persisting in her cruelty 

But the Countess thought otherwise. She was more 
determined than ever not to allow the transports of her 
heart to outweigh the pnnciples of a virtuous woman 
She did not regulate her conduct in accordance \vith the 
views of her world, but m accordance with the dictates 
of her conscience She neitlier wished to have to blush 
to herself nor before her beloved children So she 
repulsed the Chevaher de Boufflers * she withdrew 
from Pans and sought in travel a wholesome antidote 
to her passion On her return to the capital she went 
much more into society than had been her wont 
She devoted herself more completely than ever to art. 
But nothmg could soothe the pangs of love 
Eleonore de Sabran suffered long and deeply 
Month after month, she fought her passion, but never 
succeeded in abating it. In Apnl, 1781, she wrote to 
the Chevaher “ Wdule I think of it, please do not 
‘ thee and thou me ’ in your letters.”^ But it was the 
cry of the stag at bay By the end of this self-same 
month, at the beginning of spring, the fourth since the 
birth of their friendship, the all too-faithful Countess, 
tormented and distraught, found Pans too close for 
her health, and imtatmg to her mind. She needed 
open air and the bracing qmet of the country to restore 
her physical and moral energy. This need becoming 
imperative caused her to leave the capital much 
earher than usual. She went to Monseigneur de 
Sabran, her husband’s nephew, to recruit amid the 
salubnous surroundmgs of Amzi. 

But it was the delicious time of the year wlien 

^ Quoted from The Chevaher de Boufflers. by Nesta H V^cbstcr. 

I3I 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

nature xs drunken with Hfe “tie tune *, as gentle 
La Fontaine expresseait, '-when everything m the •world 
loves and moltiplles The dog-roses trembled imdcr 
the kisses of the spring sun and the bold daisies, 
displaying their •white petals and golden hearts among 
the grass, exclaimed m their own language We 

are lovely because we have loved. ’ The of 
Anna failed to restore peace to Madame de Sabran s 
love-sick heart or to give her that sclf*cominand 
which she sought from them. This country with its 
disturbing scents and warm am elk its mystenous 
rustlings and the munnur of the wind in the tender 
foliage, enervated and intoxicated her The peaceful 
Chateau d Amri and its surroundings disquieted and 
exated the young woman far more than the hubbub 
of the noisiest town It -was to this place oi Icrve and 
chann that Stanislas de BoufBers came in May. there 
to meet once more his dearly-loved Countess Dunng 
the four years m which ho had loved her he had been 
alternately tortured and cimspcrated by the j'oung 
•widow s virtue One day in despair of ever sub- 
jugating It he wrote 

The jealous are bound to declare 
Gainst her brain they have nothing to say 
And tis only perhaps in her hair 
One perceives there s a slight disarray 
In Cupid a new trick vre find 
To revenge his rciected addresses 
Having failed to disorder jtmr mind ^ 

He •works havoc Sabran ^moog your tresses. 

< Sttr u rafi^n Us tmUujt 

Jsr«i iMwtsis fm trvWT i mtirJn 
Et c* ntst ftu imms us tkxttdx 
Qu on MptrioU ifPtr^r* 

XH r«mo¥r t4U *» trail 
S*btan it wwf# «0" infirrs 
Jl nt pv tmshttr Um (tmav 
U s •* pTtnd A U (hntUrts 

132 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


But to-day the seductive treachery of the country, 
the intoxication of the spnng, the uselessness of the 
struggle, the intensity of a passion wluch for four long 
years she had at once fought and indulged, bewildered 
and confused the heart and brain of this woman who 
adored her Chevaher In this month of May, so 
blooming, so pulsating with life, EMonore yielded 
to Stamslas de Boufflers’ love and in one burst of passion 
changed the whole of her life 

The gift of herself which the Comtesse de Sabran 
had just bestowed on the man who had made himself 
master of her soul was totally unlike the more or less 
passing caprices of her contemporaries This virtuous 
woman, whose love had been so strong and so imperious 
as to wrest from her what she regarded as the greatest 
of all sacrifices, that of her chastity, henceforth made 
it the pivot roimd wluch her life revolved. We see 
her radiant or distraught, according as her love was 
happy or unhappy. It was the source of her joys and 
of her profound sorrows She remained indeed the 
same lovmg, tender and devoted mother that she had 
ever been since the birth of her children, but however 
strong her maternal love might be, it was dommated 
by her passion for Boufflers Henceforward EMonore 
de Sabran belongs to the heroic phalanx of the great 
lovers who hve by and die for their love. 

Thus, when she was with the Chevaher, she lost sight 
of everything but her love for him “ I love you as 
they used to love once upon a time, as they love no 
longer, and as they will never love again she wrote 
to him She felt that she had never hved till she loved 
him “ How nght I was to give myself to you, body 

^ Quoted from T/ie Chevaher de Boufflers by Nesta H Webster. 

133 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


and soul I And Bouffiers replied to these passionate 
transports with equal fervour He the former seducer, 
the sceptic in love brought to his passion for Madame 
de Sabran all the pxmty of sentiment and ecstasy of 
a youthful lover Hefelt^vlthanlnten3lty unsuspected 
even by hunself the fascination of this umque woman 
whom a few years previously he had described in these 
words Picture to yourself not only the most 
stnkmg woman you have ever seen but what is far 
greater the most fascinating not so much beauty as 
a soul made visible Of her body he wrote ' This 
almost ethereal body m which Nature has made use 
of matter only to give grace a form and to embody a 
soul 

It was just because Elionor© de Sabran was almost all 
soul because only that which was exalted and great 
had part in her, that she suffered through her lo^'e. 
Passionately m love with her os the Chevaher was 
there was his past to bo reckoned with and on more 
than one occasion he relapsed into habits which Madame 
de Sabran s sense of refinement forbade her to accept 
Without suffering Elfonore expenenced this in the 
summer of 1783 only two years after that spring at 
Amid which had witnessed the birth of thdr loxe. 
The Chevalier was obliged to go to Brussels and osVed 
the Countess to meet bun at Vaicnaennes The } oung 
woman set out to rejoin her Io\-cr her heart leafing 
with )oy On the way there she was alrcad> H'-iog 
that delicious moment when they met again an 
rehearsing all the expressions of glowing 

which she would greet her bdo\ed But on her a \ 

at Valenciennes. Madame de Sabran 
Chevaher making love to a woman of the town 

134 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


lady in question was neither pretty nor distinguished 
Thus Eldonore had the double humihation and the 
double chagnn of being forgotten, if only for a moment, 
and this, for a woman totally devoid of charm or attrac- 
tions But there is no doubt that Madame de Sabran, 
in spite of bitter tears shed at the time, and in spite of 
her anger and despair, forgave the Chevalier very 
shortly aftenvards 'A woman who loves as she 
loved is capable of making every sacnfice to keep the 
object of her passion , but her love was wounded 
and the wound was to become more painful, more 
aching vith every fresh lapse on the part of her lover 
or during his absence, for the young woman's trust 
in him was shaken 

How tortured and fnghtened she must have been 
when the Chevalier de Boufflers announced that he 
was leaving to take up the governorship of Senegal ! 
Doubtless it was one of the best means of serving his 
country and of gaming, perhaps, that fame and fortune 
without which he found it impossible to many Madame 
de Sabran His departure would also simplify Madame 
de Sabran’s position m relation to her daughter Delphme, 
who was about to finish her education and to return 
from the convent But these considerations, however 
potent, could not prevent the woman who had so 
profound a love for the Chevaher from lookmg upon 
his departure as the worst of misfortunes ‘Boufflers 
wrote to her from Rochefort that their separation 
seemed hke a bottomless abyss , from on board the 
ship which bore him away he sent her a lock of his 
hair, a s5mibol of the tender bond between them , 
but when he reached Africa he allowed six months 
to pass before he wrote to her ! How the fond 

135 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 

mistress must have suffered 1 What must she have 
thought of her lover s silence ? The Valenaennes 
episode the vicissitudes of his past must often have 
haunted her mind and ffUed her with despair She 
who by reason of her virtue had kept her freedom for 
so many years now paid in acute gnef for her weakness 
for the Chevaher And yet she loved him so ardently 
that she was happy m having joelded to hrm. 

What]oy therefore was El^nore's, when she learned 
that the Chevaher was on his way back to spend some 
months m France I Her emotion was so great that she 
could neither sleep nor eat m the days before his 
amvaL He came at last I And she knew that be 
loved her as much as ever For six months her 
happmess increased and deepened in the presence or 
viamty of the Chevalier But he departed once 
more and her gnef became so great that her old fncnd, 
the Due de Nivemais found it necessary to mvite her 
without delay to Samt Ouen in order to provide her 
with distractions or she ivould have been utterly cnished 
under its weight 

Divers troubles which were snperadded intensified 
her sorrow The Chevaher had hardly left France on 
the return voyage to Senegal when Madame do Sabran 
discovered in her own house the blackest of Intngucs 
The ecclesiastical tutor the Abb^ Bernard to whom 
she had entrusted the education of her only son 
Elz&ir dc Sabran and the completion of Dciphinc < 
education had not only betrajrd the confidence 
reposed in him by inciting the children against their 
mother but he had c\cn formed a diabolical plot to 

poison the j*oung man in order that he thcAbW might 

the sooner enjoj the pension which iladamc de Sabran 

136 



COMTKSSIi DJC SA/iJMK 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


mistress must have suffered I What must she have 
thought of her lover*s silence ? The Valencieiuies 
episode the vicissitzides of his past must often have 
haunted her mind and filled her with despair She. 
who by reason of her virtue had kept her freedom for 
so many years now paid in acute gnef for her weakness 
for the Chevalier And yet she loved bun so ardentty 
that she was happy in having yielded to turn 

Whatjoy therefore, was Elionore's, when she learned 
that the Chevalier was on hia way back to spend some 
months in France 1 Her emotion was so great that she 
could neither sleep nor eat in the days before his 
amvaL He came at last I And she knew that he 
loved her as much as ever For sxx months her 
happmess mcreased and deepened in the presence or 
vicmity of the Chevalier But he departed once 
more and her gnef became so great that her old friend 
the Due de Nivemais found it necessaiy to invite her 
without delay to Samt Ouen in order to provide her 
with distractions or she would have been utterly emshtrf 
under its weight 

Divers troubles which were superadded intensified 
her sorrow The Chevalier had hardly left France on 
the return voyage to Senegal when Madame dc Sabran 
discovered in her o%vii house the blackest of intrigues 
The ecclesiastical tutor the AbW Bernard to whom 
she had entrusted the education of her only son 
Elr^ar do Sabran and the completion of DcIpWnc ^ 
education had not only bctra>cd the confidence 
reposed in him by indting the children ogainst their 
mother bnt ho had even formed a diabolical plot to 

poison the joung man in order that he tbcAbW might 

the sooner enjoj the pension which Madame dc Sabran 

136 




COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


went and whispered into his son s Never in my life 
before did I feel so embairassed I don t believe roy 
blushes will have died down by to-monw ! " * 

Bat temble troubles of a sort other than the dif 5 - 
calties of Delphines mamage were soon to cast a 
gloom over Madame de Sabran $ life and that of her 
lover who returned to France in 1787 The old 
French soaety and the Ro3ral House which had created 
it, crumbled This soaety whose history had been 
inextricably woven with that of its kings ever since 
Loms XI had founded a homogeneous and consohdated 
France was diseased by reason of past successes and 
the abuses in which it had mdulged The benefits 
which the nobUity and clo^ had gamed had made 
of them two pnvileged classes which oppressed a 
third- But the weight of the burden did not make 
itself felt until the pnvileged classes concerned them 
selves less and leas with the unpnvileged and li\*ed 
their life more and more apart The movement 
which began under Louis XIV arose out of the extended 
powers which that monarch gave to the Court, therebj 
mvitlcg the desertion of the countrj’ by the nobilit> 
and it was accentuated in the eighteenth century 
Then numbers of setgmurs and nch people proved by 
their behaviour that their pnnopal concern was enjo} 
ment The Regent and his roit^s started wild orgies 
of pleasure and amusement , Louis XV s mistresses 
continued them ^Vhen the misery and distress 
became so aggravated that the country districts were 
more and more abandoned when France lost her 
colonies and bv an insensate and uniustlfmhlc 
expenditure adv'anced towTirds bankruptcj then (he 

< Qiiottd trotn Tkt d4 DomjfUrt by^rtUH Wfbitcr 

138 




COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


I see a smouldenng mine But how 
and where it will explode I tremble to think. 
Frightful things will happen m France and in Pans 
In spite of this she left Switxerland to re turn to 
France m order to be with Boufflers 
Bnt the Revolution became more and more menacing 
to the aristocrats The Abb^ Bernard, who had been 
pardoned plotted against Madame de Sabran He 
informed against her and denounced her to the 
vmdictive populace Monseigneur de Sabran who 
had deaded to leave France urged his relative for 
the sake of Elr^ar's life alone to take similar steps 
Madame de Sabran who every day became more alarmed 
and more shocked by the revolutionary movement 
and who worried over the dangers to which KlrAur 
was exposed m Pans yielded to Monsdgneur de 
Sabran s advice and in May 1791 she tore herself 
away from Boufflen and from Delphine who wished 
to remain in Pans and accompanied by her son took 
the road to Prussia. From Coblentx she wrote to the 
Chevaher My ^es turn ever m the direction of m> 
unhappy country and to you, dear heart Since I 
have left you I only hve m the past 

Madame de Sabran was not to be linked inth the 
present n gam until the month of December of the same 
year At that precise moment Boufflers who bad 
also been molested in Fninco disheartened bj the 
outrages of the reformers incapable of coping with their 
excesses turned to her who occupied the clUcf pbcc 
in his heart It was at Rheinburg that the} met 
The Chevaher ^v^oto to EJ^onorc that he Nvanted her 
to become his second self making all \romc3 bearable 
and all pleasures delightful And j*ct it was not until 
MO 



' COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


five years later that they became husband and wife 
For Madame de Sabran these five years were saddened 
by the most crushmg troubles. Her dearly-loved 
son-in-law, whom she alone had appreciated as he 
deserved, perished on the scaffold in January, 1794, at 
the age of twenty-six Delphine, accused of plottmg 
and treason, was arrested on the 20th of February, 1794, 
and endured captivity for eight months and eleven 
days, durmg which death hovered over her continually 
She only owed her life to the bhnd devotion of a 
simple stone-mason, J6rome, who was subjugated by 
her wit and beauty durmg one of her exammations 
It was after these temble tnals that EMonore de 

\ 

Sabran attamed the immense happiness for which her 
loving heart had yearned for the past sixteen years, 
for just as long as she had known the Chevaher On 
a shimng morning m June m the year 1797, Boufflers, 
more than ever m love with his f ascmatmg and piguante 
Countess of the thoughtful eyes and unruly locks, 
led Eleonore to the altar in a church at Breslau and 
made her the Marqmse de Boufflers The Prmce of 
Hohenlohe, Archbishop of Breslau, solemmzed the 
union of the two lovers Boufflers had now inherited 
the title of Marqms, but had nothmg to hve on except 
the income derived from an agricultural college which 
he had estabhshed in Prussia All Madame de Sabran’s 
property had been confiscated and it was because they 
were equally poor that Boufflers consented to marry 
her It needed but little to content them, for, however 
simple might be their life, it was beautified and bathed 
in sunshine by the power of their love 

But from the year 1800, the material cucumstances 
of the Marqms and Marqmse de Boufflers 

141 



COMTESSE DE SABRAN 


Ddphine de Custme interested the -wife of the fint 
Consul and Duroc Bonaparte s aide-de-camp, in thdr 
fate At their combined request, Bonaparte allowed 
the Marquis and Marquise to return to France and 
granted the post of librarian to Boufflers Thanks 
to the salary attached to this post the pair were 
henceforth raised above want and the former Chevalier 
was able to surround his beloved Marqmsc wth a 
thousand comforts which restored her health now 
unpaired by iheumatism and the worries of her past 
hfe. He tooh her to Plombi&res, where everyone was 
touched at the sight of the Marqms pushing with 
the utmost tenderness and care a whecI-chair m which 
the charming mvaiid reposed* Sometimes BoufDas 
would carry his wife in his arms to the top of the hills 
Both of them would smile so lovmgly at each other 
that it was impossible not tosee how fresh and passionate 
was their love 

Thus in this delightful intimacy, in Pans and the 
vanous places where they repaired for the benefit 
of their health they passed long years, which to them 
seemed as short as months But tunc whose flight 
they did not notice one day imperiously asserted his 
rights Boufflers, infirm aged and shrunken was 
snatched from his dear El< 5 onoTe on the iflth of Jonuai^ , 
1815 

The Marquise survived her beloved husband twelve 
years Charming and amiable and m love to the end 
she felt when she passed away on the 27th of February 
1827 that she was going to rejoin him, to love him 
even more than she had done on earth* 



THE MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

The proud Duchesse de Chateauroux was dead,^ and 
after her death, in circumstances of violence and 
mystery, everyone at the Court of Louis XV was asking 
who would replace her as favourite Not for a single 
instant did anyone suppose that Loms could do without 
a recogmzed mistress He was so dependent on 
amusement It was so essential that someone should 
act for him, smce the Queen had entirely disappeared 
from his hfe, exceptmg m tunes of sickness, that the 
question was not would he have a new favourite but 
who would she be 

AU the courtiers were eager to find him one ; each 
hoped to gam some special favour, not only from the 
King, but also from the favourite herself, if he should 
manage to settle the Kmg’s choice So about Loms 
was spun a web of numerotis, active and comphcated 
intngues, but none of them was successful in introduc- 
ing the woman who should fill the Duchesse de 
Chateauroux's place 

It was from a world qmte outside the Court, which 
had never been mixed up in Court mtngues , that the new 
favourite was to come She was bom on the 29th of 
December, 1721, had married on the 9th of March, 
1741, and in 1745 she was the dehght and ornament of 
the great financial world of Pans, the " tax-gatherers ”, 
as the people, animated by hatred and contempt, 
designated the finanaers 

^ See the chapter on The Duchesse de Ch&teauroux 

^ 143 



MARQUISE-DE pompadour 

Madame I^enormand d*Etioles such was her name 
n6t Jeanne-Antomette Poisson, had one of the prettiest 
women in Pans I-orasG~Madeleuie de la. Motte for her 
mother Bnt Monsieur Poisson never appreciated 
hi3 wife 3 heauty as it deserved- He was a vnlgar 
man, with gross appetites and a passion for monej 
At one time equerry to the Hoc d Orleans he made 
himself conspicuons by his cupidity and dishonesty 
among anny contractors all of whom however 
cheated and robbed him at will. He was even burned 
in effigy on account of tus peculations. It was then 
that the seductive Madame Poisson consoled hersdf 
for her husband s mdifference with the fnendship of a 
fanner-general, Monsieur Lenonnand dc Toumehem. 
The enchanting httle Jeanne-Antomette was probably 
the font of their intimacy 

The child was scarcely more than a few months old 
before her mother was already scheming to mahe her 
the most fascinating of women She had visions of her 
daughter reigning all-powerful in the heart of a king 
by virtne of her attractions and charm So when the 
httle girl grew older her whole education was designed 
to render her attractive both physically and mentally 
Monsieur Lenonnand de Toumehem lent himself 
with a boundless generosity to the mother s wishes and 
Jeanne-Antomette had the best professors In Paris to 
develop her natural gifts Jcliotto taught her music 
and singing , Guibaudct, dancing, CrtfbiUon, clocu 
tion and skilled artists initiated her into the secrets 
of drawing painting and engraving at the same 
time strengthening her natural taste for these arts 
The passion to please was also inculcated and her 
teachers even strme to giso to this passion the force 

144 



LATE XI 



JEANNE ANTOINETTE POISSON 

Wife rf Mrmtirur L<*nnrTnan<l H Eliolri Marqjiir Pnmp’^cJour 

Born 1721 dird 17W 

Print hu J I rJufrlrn oftft Carl 'Confoo j pcrhail 


\ fay. e t- I J 4 




MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

intensity and permanence of a -vntal instmct Thus 
it was that ever}^ day Mademoiselle Poisson became 
prettier, more graceful and more captivating Better 
than an^'^one else she knew how to charm, to gam 
admiration and to make herself irresistible. Her 
mother had confided to her her ambitious dream and 
the young girl had smiled delightedly, sure already 
that she would be able to realize it. 

It was with tins end m \new that, at the age of 
twenty, she consented to marry Monsieur Lenormand 
d'Etioles, nephew of Monsieur Lenormand de Toume- 
hem, a financier like his uncle Tlus husband had 
the misfortune to be very ugly, small and afflicted 
mth cliromcally damp hands. None the less, he 
possessed a title This title was certainly recent and 
had been bought , nevertheless, it had power to ennoble 
Mademoiselle Poisson, who, had she remained merely 
a commoner, could never have aspired to enter Court 
Monsieur Lenormand d’Etioles was, besides, madly 
in love -with his young wife, whom he admired whole- 
heartedly His love and admiration increased still 
further when Madame d’Etioles organized at her chateau 
receptions and fetes as ongmal as they were artistic 
and en]oyable . The whole “ tax-gatherers’ ” world 
was as proud as it was pleased about the marriage 
Never had it possessed so distinguished, witty, seductive 
and captivating a woman Monsieur d’Etioles deemed 
himself the happiest of husbands, above aU when his 
wife presented him with two girls, the first of whom, 
incidentally, survived only a very short tune 

But if Monsieur d’Etioles had reached the height of 
his ambition, Madame d’Etioles regarded her present 
position only as a means of brmging herself into 

145 10 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

notice and of finally attracting the King s attention 
She thonght her o^vn good luck had ordained that her 
husband s chAteau should be situated at a very short 
distance from the forest of S^art ^vhere Lotus often 
came to hunt She even hoped that this proTjmity 
would give her access to the King and help her to gam 
the place of favounte which her mother so ardently 
desired for her and which a fortune-teller, one Madame 
Lebon hsid predicted when she was a quite a child 
So Madame d Etioles kept an eye on the King's hunting 
expeditions at Steart One day when she was certain 
that the King would visit the forest she rqxured there 
in her charming httle phteton which she dime with 
as much grace and elegance as confidence. She 
had donned for the occasion a dehaously alluring pink 
costume which smted her to perfection Seated in the 
light carnage she was like an adorable httle elf full of 
mischief but infimteiy attractive. Louis noticed her 
almost directly she amved but just as he was about 
to draw near to have a closer view a quick dexterous 
jerk of the reius earned the phieton off in the opposite 

direction andtheadorablcelfdisappearcdinthedcnsltj 
of the forest. Soon however, she reappeared but farther 

o2. Louis felt an intense desire to overtake this 
charming vision But the all pow“crful Duchesse dc 
CbStcaoroux was with him and the graceful pink-clad 
clf displayed a marvellous actndty and Ingenuity in 
appearing disappearmg approaching and rctinng , in 
oxecuUng taros and evolutions which bafllcd all the 
King 8 conjectures Dcddedly Louis XV vras not to 
make the acquaintance of the fofry of the forest that 
day She was too capricious and too quick to give 
him any chance of catching up w-ith her and tJie 
146 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

Duchesse de Chateauroux, as soon as she could, sent 
word to j\Iadame d’Etioles to leave the forest immedi- 
ately, for her presence was causing considerable 
disturbance to His Majesty Madame d’Etioles 
departed ; but she attended the next Royal hunt, 
tins time in blue The Duchesse de Chateauroux, who 
was also present, felt an excessive annoyance and a 
sombre anger on recognizing the young woman , but 
she had not the nght to dismiss her After the hunt 
the King ordered all the game which had been lulled 
to be taken to Etioles 

But Madame d'Etioles' progress was to be suddenly 
interrupted With great difficult}^ the Duchesse de 
Chateauroux had prevailed on Loms to put himself 
at the head of his armies, and nowthebeautiful favourite 
shared in his mihtary triumphs , while Madame 
d’Etioles, remaimng at her husband's side, was asking 
herself when another favourable opportunity would 
recur to brmg her to the King’s notice 

This opportunity presented itself much sooner than 
the young woman had ever dreamed The King, 
weary of exploits which had nearly cost him his life, 
speedily returned to Versailles to resume his easy, 
pleasure-loving existence , and some months later, on 
the 8th of December, 1744, Madame de Chateauroux 
was earned off by a cruel and rapid illness ^ 

Madame d’Etioles realized that the moment for 
dihgent action had arrived She tried to take advantage 
of a big ball which was held at Versailles in honour 
of the Dauphin’s mamage in the early part of 1745 
But she passed almost unnoticed, so many were the 
wonderful sights to be seen there One which attracted 

^ See the chapter on The Duchesse de Ch&teauroux. 

147 



MAKQUISE BE POMPADOUR 

most attention consisted of a group of male and female 
d a ncers transformed, mto xtrytlmucaliy yew- 

trees Disappointed, the ambitions young woman 
promised herself her revenge at the ball which the 
B6UI it V\IU at Pans was giving to the King and the 
Royal Family to celebrate the same event Madame 
went to the ball in a charming pink dommo and stayed 
near the entrance for the King's arrwaL 
But Louis kept the company waiting He had at 
first decided not to go to the ball at the Bditl dt Ville , 
so the Royal Family departed lor the Ifcte without him 
However towards eleven o clock the King changed his 
mmd. His coach was hastily brought round and he 
arrived late Madame d Etioles had not quitted her 
observation post though the King's amval seemed but 
a foiioru hope She had managed too to preserve her 
good humour and air of gaiety Scarcely had Louis 
entered the B6Ul dt V%U« when, with coquettish grace 
she pirouetted round the Rc^ral visitor and forced him 
to feel the charm of her delightful personality The 
Monarch allowed himself to be drawn mto the game. 
He followed the fosemating pink dommo through 
the groups of dancers threading his way among « 
labynnth of formture and ornaments until he lost 
sight of her Then being somewhat tired he was 
about to abandon the chaso when the nuschici’ous 
domino reappeared and threiv a lace handkerchief 
at his feet The significance of this pretty gesturt 
was not lost on the Soi*CTcign Ho made haste fo pick 
up the elegant handkerchief and under the protection 
of this damty i amour he was at last able to catch 

the tantaliang domino and even to squeeze her uaist 
The King led his charming capti« to an isolated and 

14S 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

restful little salon, for he burned to become better 
acquainted Muth the lady who had led liim such a dance 
But the domino was so overcome by his nearness that 
she fainted in his arms. Louis had to bring all his 
knowledge and presence of mind into play to restore 
her. WHien she regained consciousness, the King 
and the domino smiled at each other in the pleasantest 
manner possible They were already in such sj^mpathy 
\nth one another that the King was afraid to let 
the young woman return home alone He accompanied 
her to her mother’s, Madame Poisson, and enjoyed 
liimself so much in the societj^ of these ladies that it was 
long past dawn before he returned to Versailles and 
regained his apartments It was after tliis night of 
emotion that the ICing slept until five o’clock in the 
afternoon, and the courtiers at Versailles remarked 
that on this particular Monday " the ICing's day began 
at five o’clock ” 

Nevertheless, Madame d'Etioles' success wth the 
King would have stopped at this point if the young 
woman had not had a relative at Court to recall to 
Louis XV the charming memones of the forest of 
Sdnart and the H6iel dc VilU, and to laud the vaned, 
attractive and manifold gifts of the beautiful “ tax- 
gatherer ". In fact, however much Louis might be 
wantmg a mistress, he was so apathetic, so devoid of 
initiative, that had it not been for his valet de cliamhe, 
Binet, he would never, perhaps, have followed up the 
adventure at the ball in the Hdtel de Vtlle But 
Bmet, with infimte adroitness was able to make the King 
see and even feel the dehghts which were reserved for 
the lover of this creature, all compact of charm and 
grace Loms now began to thmk more often of 

149 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

Madame j d Etioles his imagmation pictnrcd her 
rogmsh, light hearted, capnaons and bewitchmg as 
he had seen her at S^nart and at the H 6 tcl it ViUt 
It was not long before he wanted to see her again, and 
as chance took a hand m the game, he had no difficult) 
m realizing his wish His Ifinister d Argenson li\'ed 
m the Rue des Bons Enfants, almost opposite Madame 
de Poisson s house So m order to visit the mother 
and daughter the Kmg had only to call at his Minister's, 
and from there but t<T cross the street to find himself 
m the presence of the object of his growmg love. 

Thus Louis paid Madame d'Etioles several visits, and 
the Due de Richeheu says in his Mhnoirts that it 
probably towards the end of the month of March 
(1745) that the young woman gratified the Kings 
desire. Their relations remained secret and limited for 
some weeks Bat Madame d'Etloles did not intend 
this state of things to continue for long She meant 
to appear at Court at the very cariiest opportuint} 
but smee the King apparently failod to discern this 
his pretty mistress determined to preapitate the c\cnt 
herself 

Loms had not been to the Rue des Bons Enfants for 
5e\'cral days This prolonged absence might slgnlfj 
the beginnmg of Indifference. Madame dEtioIcs 
resolv ed to retaliate at once. She set out immcdtatclj 
for Versailles and arrived there alarmed and fn tears. 
She came ostensibly, to implore the King s help and 
protection Her husband hod learned of her sentiments 
for and bounties to Louis and intended to punish her 
cruelly She v.'as temfied Kc\*cr would she dare 
to return to Monsieur d Etioles The King alone 
could save her from the tcmblc anger of this man 
150 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

Her expressions of distress and fear were accompanied 
by eloquent and touching tears She was almost 
tragic in her fright and yet truly charming 1 How 
was it possible for the King to refuse her request ? He 
had no wish to do so, and the saihe evening Madame 
d’Etioles supped at Versailles between the Due de 
Richelieu and the Due de Luxembourg The next 
da}^ she was installed in Madame de Mailly’s apartments 
(Apnl, 1745). 

As a matter of fact, Monsieur d'Etioles had not threat- 
ened his mfe at all This husband , who had always been 
a slave to tlie slightest \nsh and capnee of the woman 
to whom he had given his name, who would have dared 
anything to make her happy, had spoken in terms of 
love and respect and not in the least angnly or spite- 
fully But Madame d’Etioles, who had never regarded 
lum m any other light than as a means to gam access 
to the King, made use of him yet once again to further 
her ambition, ivithout troubhng about tlie role which she 
assigned to lum It was for the purpose of getting 
rid of him altogether that she persuaded Louis one day 
to confer on Monsieur d'Etioles the appointment of 
Postmaster-General, intimidation and threats of the 
Bastille having failed to accomphsh her object A 
legal separation in June, 1745, completely severed her 
financial interests from those of her husband 

The young woman now estabhshed herself more and 
more firmly at Court Loms XV associated his mistress 
m the country’s glory by conferring on her from the 
headquarters of his amues the title of Marqmse the 
day after the great victory of Fontenoy (the nth of 
May, 1745) Henceforth she was to be known as the 
Marqmse de Pompadour, the name of a hamlet and of a 

151 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

magnificent chateau situated not far from the bants of 
the Corr^, which she received from tile King at the 
same time as her title. On the X4th of September 
2745, the Pnncesso de Conti herself formally presented 
at Versailles the already recogmred favonnte who was 
one day to become dame du fmlais to the Queen and 
who became almost immediatel> the soul life and power 
of Louis XV s government as well as of his mthnate 
life and afiections 

^e attitude of the new favonnte which at first was 
very modest almost seU-efiaang and full of deference 
towards the Queen was in marked contrast to her 
radiant beauty Her beautiful complexicm which was 
at once bnJliant and delicate she owed to the macdible 
whiteness of her skin and the exquisitely delicate colour 
m her cheeks Her Ups were rather pale, but tho teeth 
which they hid were so ravishing and could flash so 
delightfully that no one thought of wishing that 
her Ups had been redder Madame de Pompadour’s 
smile lit up and embellished her whole face prctt> as 
it already w^ for it made the most adorable and 
disconcerting little dimples in her tiny cheeks Her 
eyes which were absolutely irreslstiblo, arc indesenb- 
able sometimes thej would seem to be black and 
sometimes blue The only thing about which one 
could be certain was that they possessed aU the qualities 
of both blue and black eyes and that they bewitched 
those upon whom their glances feU She had luagnl 
ficent light auburn hair, which bad borrowed, the 
warmth and radiance of the setting sun Her face was 
cxlraordinanlj mobile full of rogufsh charm and 
soraefimcs of nobilitj She could be mipenou5 too 
Her height a little above medium was cxacll> soiled 

153 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

to this graceful, lissom, fascinating woman, in whom 
everything was justly proportioned, harmonious, and 
even poetical. Her hands, arms and feet were perfect 
and her whole bodj', spnghtly and enchanting, 
seemed to be controlled by the love which animated it 
As a matter of fact, Madame de Pompadour was 
passionless or, rather, her sole passion was a devounng 
ambition to whose senucc she had brought an indomit- 
able tenacity of wall. Love did not move her ; it 
weaned and bored her It w’as nches, glor}% honours 
that she craved and, above all, pow'er, which she 
pnzed even more than wealth It was m order to 
obtain these things of sovereign W'orth that she had 
determined to make a conquest of Louis XV She 
succeeded, thanks to her beauty and intellectual 
qualities Exceedingly intelligent, highly cultivated, 
thoughtful and calculating, the new' favourite had been 
able to provide for all eventualities, to arrange and 
accomplish everjdhing She had been troubled by 
no scruples or feelings ; for to these she was a stranger 
People and opportunities she regarded merely as 
stepping stones in her climb upwards 

To-day ]\Iadame de Pompadour had attained that 
position which her mother had desired for her from 
the day of her birth, and which she herself had coveted 
ever since she had ^first begun to think It might be 
supposed that m this hour of bnUiant victory she 
would have been happy , in reality, she was confronted 
by terrible difficulties » 

Louis had beheved in the young woman's love for 
him He had looked forward to so many unexpected 
joys, bnngmg voluptuous dehght and fresh pleasures 
On more than one occasion, before she was Marquise, 

153 , 



marquise de pompadour 

mag^cent cMtean, situated not far from the bank, of 
the Coirize, winch she received from the King at the 
same time as her tiUe. On the 14 th of September 
1745. the Prmcesse do Conti heiself fonnally presented 
at Versailles the already lecogmied favoimte who was 
one day to become dame du palau to the Queen and 
who became almost immediately tie soul, life and power 
of Lome XVs government as well as of his mtinmte 
life and aSechona 

The attitude of the new favourite, which at first was 
very modest almost self-eftacing and full of deference 
towards the Queen was m marked contrast to her 
radiant beauty Her beautiful complexion vdiich was 
at once bnlhont and delicate, she owed to the incredible 
whiteness of her akm and the exquisitely delicate colour 
in her cheeks Her hps were rather pale but the teeth 
which they hid were so ravishing and could flash so 
delightfully that no one thought of wishing that 
her lips had been redder Madame de Pompadour s 
smile lit up and embellished her whole face prettj as 
it already was for it made the most adorable and 
disconcertmg little dimples in her tiny cheeks Her 
eyes which were absolutely irresistible ore indcscnb- 
able sometides they would seem to be black and 
sometimes blue The only thing about which one 
could be certam was that they possessed all the qualities ^ 

of both blue and black eyes and that they bewitched t| 
those upon whom their glances fell She had magni j 
ficent light auburn hair which had borTOVixd the 
warmth and radiance of the setting sun Her face was ^ 
extraordinanlj mobile full of roguish charm and 
sometimes of nobility She could be imperious too u 
Her height, a little above medium was ocaclI> suited y 
15 a ? 


MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

to this graceful, hssom, fascinating woman, in whom 
eveiythmg Was justly proportioned, harmomous, and 
even poetical Her hands, arms and feet were perfect 
and her whole body, spnghtly and enchantmg, 
seemed to be controlled by the love which animated it 
As a matter of fact, Madame de Pompadour was 
passionless or, rather, her sole passion was a devourmg 
ambition to whose service she had brought an mdomit- 
able tenacity of will Love did not move her, it 
weaned and bored her It was nches, glory, honours 
that she craved and, above all, power, which she 
pnzed even more than wealth It was m order to 
obtain these things of sovereign worth that she had 
determined to make a conquest of Loms XV She 
succeeded, thanks to her beauty and intellectual 
quahties Exceedmgly mteUigent, highly cultivated, 
thoughtful and calculatmg, the new favounte had been 
able to provide for all eventuahties, to arrange and 
accomphsh everything She had been troubled by 
no scruples or feelings , for to these she was a stranger 
People and opportumties she regarded merely as 
stepping stones m her climb upwards 

To-day Madame de Pompadour had attained that 
position which her mother had desired for her from 
the day of her birth, and which she herself had coveted 
ever since she had ^first begun to think It might be 
supposed that in this hour of bnUiant victoiy she 
would have been happy ; m reahty, she was confronted 
by temble dif&culties ♦ 

Loms had beheved m the young woman’s love for 
him He had looked forward to so many unexpected 
joys, bnngmg voluptuous dehght and fresh pleasures. 
On more than one occasion, before she was Marquise, 

153 



marquise de pompadour 

magnificent chateau situated not far from the banks of 
the CorrCie which she received from tlie King at the 
same time as her title. On the 14 th of September 
^745/ the Pnncesso de Conti herself formally presented 
at Versailles the already recognized favonnte trho vras 
one day to become dame du palats to the Queen and 
who became almost immediately the soul, life and power 
of Louis XV’s government as well as of his mtimate 
life and afiections 

The attitude of the new fevounte, which at first was 
very modest almost self-efiacmg and full of deference 
towards the Queen was in marked contrast to her 
radiant beauty Her beautiful complexion which was 
at once bnlhant and delicate she owed to the xncrcdiWe 
whiteness of her skm and the exquisitely delicate colour 
in her cheeks Her Ups were rather pale, but the teeth 
which they hid were so ravishing and could flash so 
delightfully that no one thought of wishing that 
her lips had been redder Madame de Pompadour* 
smile Ut up and embellished her whole face, pretty as 
it already was for it made the most adorable and 
disconcerting httle dimples m her tiny checks Her 
eyes which were absolutely irresistible, ore indescrib- 
able sometimes they would scan to be black and 
sometimes blue The only thing about which one 
could be certain was that they possessed aU the qualities 
of both blue and black, eyes and that they bewitched 
those upon whom their glances fell She had nwgni 
ficent light auburn hair which had borrowed, the 
^va^nth and radiance of the setting sun Her face was 
cxtraordinaxflj mobile, full of roguish charm and 
somctmics of nobihty She could be imperious too 
Her height a little abo\c medium was exact Ij suited 
15a 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

to this graceful, hssom, fascinating woman, in whom 
everj^tlung was justly proportioned, harmomous, and 
even poetical Her hands, anns and feet were perfect 
and her whole body, sprightly and enchanting, 
seemed to be controlled by the love wliich animated it. 
As a matter of fact, Madame dc Pompadour was 
passionless or, rather, her sole passion was a devounng 
ambition to whose ser\uce she had brought an indomit- 
able tenacity of will Love did not move her ; it 
weaned and bored her. It was nches, gloIy^ honours 
that she craved and, above all, power, which she 
pnzed even more than wealth. It was m order to 
obtain these things of sovereign worth that she had 
determined to make a conquest of Louis XV She 
succeeded, thanks to her beauty and intellectual 
qualities Exceedingly intelhgent, highly cultivated, 
thoughtful and calculating, the new favourite had been 
able to provide for all eventualities, to arrange and 
accomplish everytlung She had been troubled by 
no scruples or feelings ; for to these she was a stranger. 
People and opportumties she regarded merely as 
stepping stones m her climb upwards 

To-day Madame de Pompadour had attained that 
position which her mother had desired for her from 
the day of her birth, and which she herself had coveted 
ever since she had ^first begun to think It might be 
supposed that in this hour of brilliant victory she 
would have been happy ; in reality, she was confronted 
by temble difficulties. • 

Loms had beheved in the young woman’s love for 
him He had looked forward to so many unexpected 
joys, bringing voluptuous dehght and fresh pleasures 
On more than one occasion, before she was Marquise, 

153 , 



■marquise de pompadour 

he had fotmd her less ardent than ho had imagined 
awkward in love and maladroit in the manifestations 
of her passion hut he had put this down to the false 
position which she occupied. He thou^t that once 
she was formally installed at the Court and no longer 
womed over her family and position, she would he 
all that he had dreamed. But Madame de Pompadour 
hopelessly cold, entirely Wlang m temperament 
whose senses were only stirred hy the force of her will 
failed to create the illnsion of love which he had anti 
dpated She longed to he in love with him , at 
times she even thought that she was in love with him 
for m spite of everything she had some heart and a 
kindly imagination but she did not succeed mdecci\‘ing 
the King Soon Louu christened her " the statue of 
snow and when he entered her apartments be did 
not always take the tronhle to approach her He 
often went straight to the sofa where he sat dorni 
alone for he no longer desired kisses from a woman who 
was unable to create the illusion of love 
Madame de Pompadour at once gauged the danger 
of tho dtuatiOD she knciv that the courtlcn were 
already tfdlqng about it and she shuddered at the 
thought that in a few hours sho could lose cver>'thing 
which It had taken her scicral years to gain, and 
which had cost her so much effort Come what might 
she must strengthen her position FoensWj 
racked her brains for the best means of retaining the 
King s favour This was the time when her woman of 
the bedchamber Madame du Hausset, describes her as 
trembliug at the least sound alwajTi on the 5H1 nrr 
spending hours before her glass in the creation of a 
coiffuTt or a iotUiU thanks to which she might be 

154 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

secure on her throne for another twenty-four hours 
But all these means were only transitory. She 
really desired to overcome the apathy of her senses 
and to show the King that she felt passion for him. So 
she resorted to a particularly stimulatmg diet. She 
fed on chocolate, lughly peppered meats stuffed with 
truffles, cakes and mdk-puddings strongly flavoured 
ivith vanilla She chose celery as her favourite vege- 
table and made her physician give her the names of all 
the drugs likely to be effective m such a case She 
took quantities of these, but in vain. She only caused 
punples to appear on her nose and spoilt her skin and 
complexion 

Then, prompted by her mtelhgence and common- 
sense, she reahzed that she must go to work qmte 
differently if she wished to succeed m making herself 
mdispensable to the King She endeavoured to distract 
and amuse her Royal lover , to give to this bored and 
blas^ monarch, who was more prone to yawn than to 
laugh or even to speak, some sort of zest for life No 
sooner had she conceived this idea than she took 
possession of his days, bore him off from one enter- 
tainment to another, from chateau to chateau, and 
dragged him mto a regular whirl of gaiety, until he 
was completely dazed She employed a thousand wily, 
mgemous httle arts to prevent him from suffermg 
boredom Her fertile unagmation created daily new 
pleasures or transformed those which the Kmg had 
aheady tasted 

Fust it was concerts which she organized in the 
apartments assigned to her by the Kmg These 
concerts were totally unlike any which Loms had 
hitherto attended. Madame de Pompadoiu, who was 

155 


MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

an excellent musician knew how to draw up a pro- 
gramme which was as onginal as it was pleasing 
Then, music being too much like heiseli she deeded to 
substitute for it theatneal performances For this 
purpose she caused the most fascinating and costly 
theatre to be constructed m the pdits apparimtnis^ 
at ■'Versailles, where the actors and actresses were the 
ladies and gentlemen of the Court The ^a^’ou^te 
herself coached them and the success which she achieved 
as head of the company and as an actress was enonnous 
Madame de Pompadour had a JIatf for the stage for 
dramatic art for the picturesque and for perspccthx 
She knew exactly how to amuse how to draw tears 
to ftxato enthusiasm or hate. So the ^tts apfarie 
ntenls which had formerly resounded to the witty and 
danng jests of the Duchesse de Lauragnais » re-echoed 
to-day to the pretty silvery toned and softl> modu 
lated voice of the Marqmse de Pompadour os she acted 
almost with gemus the heroines in fashionable plaj*s 
■Versailles was not the King's only pnvate theatre. 
The favounte had others equally choice at Chois) 
where the performances in the cabtneis were rcallj 
inaugurated and at Bellevue The most popular pla)** 
of the period were acted here vrvth greater slill than 
on the public stage. Thus it was that Madame de 
Pompadour acted in and caused to bo presented at the 
various theatres m the King's peiUs apparUrmnts 

i En/iin/ Prafigur by Jean Jacques Rousseau leDnw 

du Vtlia^g by the same author, /> M/chanl b) Cresset 
and a number of other plays which are unknown to-da) 
but were \eTj popular then Her mother i old friend 

« <>« iht chapter on CUx/iwn-Mf 

• Set the chapter on Tie Dtuktiu de * 

» 5 <* 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

Monsieur Lenormand de Toumehem, was manager of 
these theatres and no one admired more than he the 
talent of the actress-favounte. As to Madame Poisson, 
she died the year following her daughter’s installation 
at the Court. After her death an unknown hand 
dared to ivnte tlus epitaph • 

“ Here lies one, who, gutter-bred. 

To a fortune did aspire. 

Sold herself to the ‘ farmer’s ’ bed 
And her daughter to the squire 1 

But Madame de Pompadour had no time to mourn her 
mother’s loss No sooner had the Royal theatres been 
built, no sooner had she organized and tramed her 
company, and put on and performed the plays m public, 
than she perceived Louis’ interest to be waning If 
she failed to discover somethmg which would renew 
the attraction of these theatncal performances, the 
King would grow tired of them So Madame de 
Pompadour had the bright idea of giving the Monarch an 
active role The play WcLs always followed by supper 
m the pehts appartemcnis. The favourite persuaded 
the King to make the supper invitations his own 
particular concern, while the performance was gomg on 
Naturally all the Court ladies and the courtiers wanted 
to be present at these suppers But, apart from the 
restncted space, the Marqmse was afraid of the young 
and pretty women and taxed all her wits to find 
means to keep them away from the King So after 
the first supper she reserved to herself the nght of 
issmng invitations to the women But it was by the 
invitations to the men that she meant to amuse the 

^ “ Cx-git qin, sortant du fwmer 
Pour J'atre une fortune enUtre, 

Vendtt son honneur au fermier 
Et sa fille au proprtiiaxre ” 

157 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

King dunng the performances Conseqnentlj she 
made it a role that henceforth none of the men should 
be invited to supper until the evemng itself TOen 
the play began all the ladies seated themselves on a 
bench to the right of the King while the gentlemen 
sat on a bench on his left Simultaneously a footman 
handed the King a powerful magnifymg glass which 
enabled him to distinguish everything down to the 
verv expression on the faces Through thi«? magnifying 
glass the King leisurely studied each of his guests in 
turn. From time to time he put down the glass to 
wnte a name then the scrutiny began agam In this 
manner Loms drew up the list of gentlemen who were 
to receive mvitahons to supper No one knew the 
names which the Kmg had written down These 
were not announced until the end of the play Great 
therefore was the su^>cnse which pre\'ailed each 
feverishly desiring to be amongthe chosen and trembling 
lest he should be passed over The spectacle of the 
fears and desires of the acute fechngs which agitated 
the minds and souls of the gentlemen assembled 
was a source of ever fresh and lively pleasure to Louis 
No play ever amused him half so much os this enter 
tainmcnt which he owed to Madame dc Pompadour ^ 
mgenuity At the end of the performance all the 
spectators w ere summoned by the gentleman usher 
into the ante-room to the cab%nt(s It was here tliat 
the contents of the King s list were announced B) the 
hght of a candle stuck in an enormous candlestick the 
usher read out one ono the names which the King 
had written down Each name was followed h> a 
pause as the fortunate nominee saw the door which 
gave access to the dining room where supper was 
i5« 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 


served open immediately to admit liim Not until 
he had entered and the door was closed behind him 
did the reading of the Royal list continue m the midst 
of growing agitation, in intense pallor overspreading 
the faces of many as the reading advanced Not 
infrequently those courtiers who had learned for 
certain that their names were omitted from the King’s 
list would remain as though crushed and speechless, 
incapable for several minutes of leaving the ante-room 
It was after one of these cabineis suppers to which 
the King, the favounte and the Court attached so 
much importance, that Madame de Pompadour pro- 
curred the dismissal (August the 6th, 1755) of Madame 
d’Estrade, one of the women who was most skilled in 
intngue During the supper of the night before, 
Madame de Pompadour had observed that Louis 
lingered to talk to the lady and that he had smiled at 
her in a way that the favounte considered dangerous 
to herself So the next day Madame d’Estrade, to her 
great astomshment, received a letter from the King in 
which he enjoined her to leave the Court immediately 
If Madame de Pompadour had gained such an ascend- 
ancy over Loms’ will it was, no doubt, in the beginning, 
because she amused, distracted and took him out of 
himself , but it was also due to the fact that this 
woman,, possessed of immense mtelhgence, ambition, 
energy, audacity, will-power and skill, combined with 
every kind of intellectual resource, had been able to 
monopohze alli the forces of the government and the 
Court of Louis XV and to control the entire machinery of 
the State From 1746, until the day of her death, she 
was the despotic Mimster of this Monarch who was 
always so apathetic and indifferent where pohtics 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

were concemecL As Minister and favounte in one 
Madame de Pompadour displayed a spmt of authonty 
whidi was only equalled by her pnde and extmva 
gance, ShewbomPredenckllof PnissiadisrespcctfuUj 
called " CotiUou IV became insolent on her accession 
to power 

It was the home government which ^vas the first to 
sufier from Madame de Pompadour’s claims and exac 
tions Her earliest act of authority was to replace 
Om the econonfical Minister of Finance by Monsieur 
de Machault a pleasant but fnvolous man who was 
very little concerned with safeguarding the State 
revenues * Then leas tolerant than the Uuchesse de 
ChftteauToux the Marqmso de Pompadour disgraced 
and sent mto exile at Bonrges m the spring of 1749 
Maurepas who had been gmity of wnting an epigram 
against her This revenge not only consoled her for 
the harm wrought by the epigram in question but 
also for the numerous pin pneks levelled against herbj 
the latest lampoons whose numbers could ha\e filled 
volumes It was during this same spring of 1749 
(the xst of May) that the youthful Daury was confined 
in the Bastille ho whose misfortunes were to become 
so popular when he revealed his identity under the 
name of Latude to which ho had in fact no right 
Daury was imprisoned because he had been accused, 
falsely, of having tried with the help of his friends 
to poison the favourite His imprisonment lasted for 
no less a penod than thirty sLx jears The Marquise 
indeed bad too much to do to remember those of 
whom she had rid herself 

* Slie liucw him orcr «»«• the el th* 

theiUol«tcrcnpopulif bcrth with the rwli«KBt «oJ 

160 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

It was her numerous occupations, perhaps, which 
may help to explam why Madame-de Pompadour never 
promoted, with the single exception of Choiseul, any 
but men of mediocre talents. Her time was so filled 
with a variety of pursmts and engagements that 
notwithstandmg her mteUience she could only study 
very superficially those around her This dif&culty, 
]omed to her boast that in each of the men she 
employed she had at once a perfect courtier and a 
zealous admirer, enables us to understand why none 
of them was at the head of his profession There were 
the incapable Marqms de Pmsieux, substituted for 
d’Argenson , Berms, the inef&cient Minister of Foreign 
Affairs , Soubise, who was placed at the head of the 
French amues by Madame de Pompadour and who 
showed himself so incompetent as to appear grotesque. 
The day foUowmg his most cruel defeat (at Rossbach 
in 1757) 3E Pans was smging 

The deuce,' cned Soubise, with his lantern alight, 

‘ My army has quite disappeared in the mght ! 

Sure, someone has filch’d it, 'twas here yesterday , 

Have I lost it ? Mislaid ? Or myself gone astray ? ' ”i 

Madame de Pompadour was herself convmced of 
Soubise’s mcapacity and caused him to be replaced by 
the Due de Richeheu 

Monsieur Poisson, her legal father, was made 
Seigneur de Mangny , her brother Marquis de Vaudi^res 
and afterwards Marqms de Mangny and director of the 
Royal building operations It is but fair to say that m 
the last-named function Poisson fils showed himself 

^ " Soubise dii, la lanieme a la mam 

' J'ai beau chercher , ou diable esi man armie P 
Elle etait la pourtant hter maim 
Me Va-t-on prise, ou I’aurats-je dgarie ? ’ ” 

161 


11 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

were concerned. As Minister and favonnte in one 
Madame de Pompadour displayed a spint of authontj 
which was only equalled by her pnde and extrava 
gance. She whom Fredenck IT of Prussia disrespcctfuUj 
called ‘ Cotillon IV became insolent on her accession 
to power 

It was the home government which was the first to 
sufier from Madame de Pompadour’s claims and exac- 
tions Her eaiiiest act of authority was to replace 
Om the economical Minister of Finance, by Monsieur 
de Mochault, a pleasant but frivolous roan who was 
very little concerned with safeguarding the State 
revenues * Then less tolerant than the Duchesse de 
Chfiteauroux the Marquise de Pompadour disgraced 
and sent into cale at Bourges m the spring of 1749 
Manrepas who had been guilty of wnting an epigram 
against her This revenge not only consoled her for 
the harm wrought by the epigram in question, but 
also for the numerous pm pneks levelled against her b> 
the latest lampoons whose numbers could have filled 
volumes It was dunng this same spring of 1749 
(the 1st of May) that the youthful Daury was confined 
in the Bastille he whoso misfortunes w ere to become 
so popular when he revealed his idcntitj under the 
name of ' Latude to which he had m fact no right 
Dauiy was imprisoned because he had been accused 
falsely of having tnod with the help of hii friends 
to poison the favourite His imprisonment lasted for 
no less a period than thirtj six j ears The Slorqube 
indeed had too much to do to remember those of 
whom she had rid herself 

> ‘ihe ihsrw him ovrr »(tct Ibf iJCaUm of the hiff mi U 

theMlniiteronpoimUr bothwitbtbel’atliimrtituKf w*^**®^ 

160 




IIARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

an enligbtened and mtelU^nt jatron of all the arts 
Madame de Pompadour also interfered m the struggle 
between the Parbament and the Archbishop of Paris and 
the Jesmts Her hatred of the Jesmts who had 
employed a thousand means to expel her from the Court, 
naturally made her range herself on the side of 
Parliament 

Nevertheless, despdte her incrediblo energy, her 
ever active mteHigence and her feverish efforts, which 
were concentrated at one and the same time on the 
King's pleasures and on his government, the Marquise 
de Pompadour had not succeeded in defimtely establish 
mg her domination cither over the Court or over 
Louis In 1753 the favourite passed through a tcmble 
crisis The Court looked upon her then and for 
several years afterwards as a parvtnue Voltaire himself 
who by birth belonged just as httle to the Court, 
wrote in 1755 m his Pucelie 

This gay gmettc a lofty rOle would fill 
Formea os she was by Nature and by Art 
In the h'lrcm or play to act a part 

shrewd mamma with foresight wit and sldll 
To lordly couch of farmer did convey 
And Cupd with a hand more cunning still 
Between a monarch s sheets contrived to lay * 

The King became estranged from her for she bad 
lost her attraction for him and could no longer be his 
mistress All that remamed of her sprightly, bcwftdi 
ing beauty were her wonderful, disturbing cj*es 
Her freshness had entirely vanished She was thin 

1 TtU* utU JUnrniM griutU 

Qm £3 t/atur$ *{nn fw# fMri forma 
Ptrur It t/rsiJ e4 Mtm pDur rOf^M 
Qu mnt mjMjM cvt$/t tfiffr/U 
At/ moiii iii d’trn ItrmAtr fUtt 
a fut rAwuttt ct/nt twaJ'* tJnilt 
Pnr MU wtonargttt tnirt rfnur ^rapt pltrs / 

162 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

hectic and had a cough ; the doctors urged her to take 
the greatest care of her chest Madame de Pompadour 
paid no heed to medical advice , but her will, strong 
as it was, could not restore her health. There was 
nothing in her which recalled the poetical and mis- 
chievous little elf of the forest of S( 5 nart. In October, 
1752, Louis XV had conferred on her by letters patent 
the title of Duchess As an ad^en it was glorious and 
Louis certainlj^ meant it to be a farewell gift The 
Marquise fought. She refused to understand She 
would find other means to hold the Kmg. While she 
sought them she lived in a perpetual state of terror. 
Thrown mto a cold sweat by the discovery of a letter 
m Louis' pocket, by a word the Monarch might 
address to a woman, even by a look , lU, tormented by 
the fever of fear as well as of sickness, she was haunted 
day and night by that rival’s shadow which she believed 
to be hovenng over her. So acute were her fears and 
sufferings that she ended by wantmg to give up the 
game She indulged m religious vaganes and attempted 
to become reconciled to Rome and her husband She 
even hoped for the Pope's mtervention to mfluence 
Monsieur d’Etioles on his wife’s behalf. But neither 
Rome nor Monsieur d’Etioles would respond to her 
overtures. Her husband had been too profoundly 
and sadly deceived by the woman whom he had 
imagmed to be so different from what she had shown 
herself, to believe either m her repentance or m the 
smeerity of any of her sentiments Rome suspected 
that the manoeuvres of this enemy might conceal a 
snare Thus Madame de Pompadour was repulsed by 
those whose help she implored and had to face her 
terrible situation alone. It was her isolation and 

163 



atARQUISE EE POifPADOUR 

peril which determined her to commit one of her com- 
promising acts, Ihe importance of which has been 
the most exaggerated of any and which has brought 
on her the most discredit 
This woman, ^ose ambition had alwaj’s been the 
great motrve power in her life who had never had the 
unsophisticated mind of a young girl nor known the 
hesitancies of refined and delicate natures who 
always judged her actions by the entenon of success 
and who had no precise idea of morality and virtue, 
ended by desiring to keep her position as favourite 
by leaving others to look after the King's voluptuous 
pleasures. The one thing which she wished to pmmt 
at all costs was the exercise of any mfiuence owr 
Ixrais bv those who charmed his senses Sht knew 
for example that it was not the jealousy of love that 
she had felt when Xnnis was paying attention to the 
Marquise de Coislm She was well aware that it was 
not the lover's joy on regaining her loved one which 
she expressed when she observed to her faithful du 
Hausset after the check to Madame de Colslin ' The 
proud Marquise has missed her mark I She has terrified 
the Kmg by her grand airs and has never ceased to ask 
him for monev The King would sign for a mflikm 
without thinking anything of it and yet he would 
hardly spend twenty lotnx on his Uttic treasure f ' 
3fadame de Pompadour was feeling the fear of losing her 
power, the one thing which she passlonatclj loivd So 
ibe was ready to countenance the Kings amorous 
fancies on condition that tfaej left her pwuvr intact 
It was certain that all the Court ladies w horn the King 
might honour would make exactions incompatible with 
the rtg ims of Madame de Pompadour This being 
J64 




MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

which m the past had been reserved for deer that the 
PeitU Mttson du Roi, called the Parc atix Cerjs on 

account of Its former use, was pnt in order Althoufih 
Chateaubriand has caUed the Parc aux Ccrjs the pillow 
of Louis XV s debaucheries , although histonons like 
Henn Martin have stressed the gramty of the Ireence 
which the Kmg allowed himself, and LacretcHe has 
claimed that these debauches cost four milltons, it 
13 very certam that the importance of the Parc aux 
Cerfi has been greatly exaggerated In a word, the 
number of young girls who passed through it was 
very iimited There were never more than three at a 
time , morcoftenonlytwoand still morcoftenonlyone 
As to births, they were excecdinglv rare 
The King was known there as a Polish count, dis- 
tantly related to Queen Mario Leczinska The 
organixation was certainly in the bands of iladame de 
Pompadour in spite of the denials of some of her 
biographers and one of her cousins, the Marquis de 
Lnrarche, was at the head Undoubtedly Lebcl a 
former valet was charged with the dnty of Snduig 
subjects who would please the Wng but it is ivij 
certam that the final decision lay with Madame de 
Pompadour The dame Bertrand at one time Lebel s 
housekeeper ivas lady-supcrmtcndent at the Parc 
aux Cerfi Each of the young persons who were 
instalied there had her own petronnel, her minion 
os it was called and a regular allowance ret aside for 
her mamtenance This establishment consisted of 
three domestics and the aHossance amounted to tan 
thousand francs per head These yxianr girls Itad a 
foge grill/ at the ComAhe where they went In tarn 
Konc of them knew that there were other* te-idrs 
rfifi 



MAKQLTISE DE POiSPAEOER 


nerself in the hoiise. They wreie not sIloTred to 
receive iriends, Ont ihev ^vere supplied vrith the zn2sters 
“horn they vranted to complete then edncaEon. 
There is every reason to believe thnt occasionally ther* 




MARQUISE UE POMPADOUR « 

which, with the consent of JancDe, Postmasfer- 
GeneraJ she had made a regular and permanent busi- 
ness ^ras also a source of inexhaustible amusement to 
Zxuus It was doe to her that the King was cu cctirani 
^^th all the gossip in the land lo\'e ad\’cn(ures and 
schemes of the most improper order, which pro\nded 
him with every sort and fcmd of enterfamment while 
Madame dc Pompadour denved hints from this 
information which were of great \*a]ue to her in the 
exercise of power 

These measures as well as the suspicions roused 
by the Parc aux Cerfs and the discontent bred b> the 
expenditure and despotic power of the ^a^•ou^te pro* 
wked a riot m May 1756 and Damiens attempt 
on the King s life (January the 5th, 1757) The not 
was suffiacntlj serious to temf^ the King and Madame 
de Pompadour Indeed although it was vtiy quickl> 
suppressed it left the pair so ner\* 0 U 5 that ncvxr again 
did the Kmg and his fawunte dare to cross Paris 
on their waj from Versailles to St Denis A Roj'al 
mandate decreed the immediate construction of a road 
bv which they would a\x)ld Paris when tlir\ went 
down to St Denis This road recei\-cd the name of 
RmtU dc la R 6 c<iUe b> which il in aliU known to-daj 

Damiens attack alarmed Louis c\‘cn more than <IkI 
tlie not of Maj This time the King behevrd tliat hr 
had positi\*cl> made up his mind to sarj-iPce tlir 
fai'ounte in order to protect his oven life Machault 
although he owed his elevation to the Marquiv nnd 
was looked upon as her doxjted slave went to hrr 
and bmtall> intimated that she was to dcjiart forth 
with Slmultaneoudj her ante rooms were d'-'rrtnl 
Madame de Pompadour wan on t!** j^int of ol"->lor 
16S 



MARQUISE UE POMPADOUR 

the order brought by Machault She thought the game 
was really lost this time. After wearing out her 
beauty and employing the best part of her mental 
gifts, her energy, her skill and inventive genius to keep 
her power ; after providing the most unexpected 
pleasures, she was now stnick by a blou which she 
saw no means of counteracting. But before she had 
made the necessary' arrangements for her final depaiture 
the Mardchale dc Mirepoix, a shrevd, gay diplomatist, 
who could judge the affair all the better since she was 
not mixed uji m it, came to the Marquise and said • 
“ He who leaves the game, loses it.” Seeing Madame 
de Pompadour reflect, the wise Marechale added 
” The King's friendship for you is the same as his 
feeling for your apparicineni and your cuiouuige . you 
are used to his W'a3fs, to his stones , he is at his ease 
with you and has no fear of being a bore. Do 3'ou 
suppose that he will have the courage to uproot all 
this in a day, to form another establishment, and to 
make himself conspicuous in the public eye by so great 
a change m his decorations ? ” Madame de Mirepoix 
was right Louis XV was too apathetic not to be a 
man of habit. The favounte realized this and onl}'’ 
made preparations for a temporary absence So she 
disappeared for a few days , but Louis had hardly 
recovered his nerve W'hen he insistently besought her 
to return Madame de Pompadour came back more 
powerful than ever and Machault was dismissed 
Now that the Marquise had a new proof of her indis- 
pensability to the King, she was able to resume her 
role of favounte and Minister in one, with more 
assurance and authonty than ever. She had never 
cared for Fredenck II of Prussia, France's ally m 1740 



ilARQUISE DE POJIPABOUR 

Notwithstanding the secret advances which be mode 
to the favoonte, he had indulged and continued to 
Indulge in violent attacls on her and to wounding 
jests at her expense Maria Theresa o! Austria on 
the contrary, despite her austere and strict conduct 
showed nothing but fnendship and esteem for Jiadamc 
de Pompadour Some historians ha>T gone so far as to 
claim that she addressed her as coosm Doubtless 
this is far from being proved but nevertheless it is 
indisputable that the Austrian Queen sent the favourite 
a present of a magnificent amtenn in blade lacquer, 
ornamented with her own miniature and worth seventy 
seven thousand francs This mmlaturt was surrounded 
with diamonds of the first water and the most fncndl> 
letter accompamed the gift Never bad the former 
'tax-gatherer dreamed of such an honour The 
parvenue of yesterday was treated as a fnend bj an 
Empress Thu was probablj one of the f eeriest joj’S 
of her life ft is also almost certain that to Jfana 
Theresas attitude towards la Pompadour must lie 
attributed the 'reversal of alliances’ It was in 
fact to Madame de Pompadour that first Knunit* 
and then Startremberg addressed thcmsd\es in order 
to attain their ends This rcvTtsal, which bcfan 
at the conference of Babiolt was confirmed bj the 
Treat) of Versailles (Maj the ist 1756) and definite!) 
ratified after the last triumph of the ifirquhe at the 
Court in the opening hostilities of that dba^trotn 
struggle whicli has been called the Sewn dears’ War 
France now ranged herself against her former atl) an*! 
fought for no reason wlmtever onthcsldeofhrrenrmv 
of j*cstcrdaj It onl> needed the "-ubtle dijilnr-an 
of the Emprt^s Mana Theresa and the polillral ard 
J70 



*.TE XII 







JIAROUISK Dli PO.AirAD(M‘K 

feminine pride of Madame dc I’ompadoui lo 

thecountr}^ into the maddcM, mo'^t ill-coiisidcrcd and 

most unfortunate of wars. Her armies, badly rc( itnted 

and badly commanded, snlTercd one di^’iisttr aftei 

another The great defeat at Rossbach (Kf)V( mb<-i 

the 5th, 1757), was followed by thovc of CTcfeUi 

(1758) and Fcllinghauscn (1761). E\en the *’ b'annly 

Compact”, w'hicli W’as concluded in 1761 by Choi'-tul, 

who had become Minister of Foreign Afiairs and 

Madame de Pompadour’s protegd- ever since 17.^8, 

when they had both united to prevent a Choistul- 

Romanet, the Minister’s niece, from cai)turing Louis’ 

affections, could not prevent this war from being a 

ventable catastrophe for France It cost the country 

a milhon m men, Iw’o and a half milliaids of francs 

and the ruinous Treaty of Paris (1763), which dcpri\ ed 

France of the Indies, Canada, several islands in the 

^tilles and Senegal m Africa. All these possessions 

passed to England, while France ceded Louisiana to 

Spain, who had been her ally during the last j^ears of 
the war. 

This unlucky foreign policy of Madame de Pompadour 
had only one compensation, to wit, the enlightened, 
continuous and beneficent patronage which the 
favounte bestowed on literature and the arts Her 
keen and alert intelligence, backed by a taste as refined 
^ it was unerring, by a genume, ardent and natural 
love of beauty, made Louis^ inamorata the inspirer 
of the art of her epoch. It owed to her its style. She 
has left behind a distinct type of architecture, pamtmg 
^d furniture, the characteristic of which is prettmess 
This woman who had been so damtily and artistically 
pretty herself, spread about her her own sense of and 



ilARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

taste for prettmess The aim of those ^\bom she 
inspired ntbs to produce what was prctt> * , ns 
witness the pamtmgs of Bouchardon She ga^*c 
her special patronage to Cari Vanloo Bouchardon and 
the architects SoufHot and Gabriel She had a horror 
of commonplace elegance and of shodd> magnificence 
She was particolariy fond of BoulIe<; beautiful ^orks 
of art of magots pagodas finely carved ivory, rich 
blndmgs delicate china, artistic bronres and rare 
engravings She hersetf produced works of a high 
order After obtammg permission from Louis to build 
factories for the manofoctarc of chma fn Sivrrs and 
Vincennes she painted \nth losing care several services 
of this delightful china. She cut precious stones and 
madeengravlngsfroraptctarcsofoldmasters composed 
delightful songs of which one (*' To the wood we will 
no longer go V u stiU sung by young French 
girls Yet ^fadamc de Pompadours artistic influence 
made itself considerably more felt In Louis XVI s 
reign than in Loins \Vs so much so that the actual 
Pompadour sty Ic ' Is not tliat which bears her name 
but really the stvic which 13 called Louis XM ' 
Madame de Pompadour also gave her patrtjnage to 
men of letters poets md philo*<)pljers She held a 
Court uhcrc they foregathered, but while all vied 
with one another as to who should praise her movt 
and Voltaire dedicated his Tancr^df to her Jean 
Jacques Rousseau persisted in sulking He sent 
her back the amount that he con'Iderrd slw 
Ind paid In excess for the mu'lc which he had 
written for her and never gave her a word ol 
pnlw But Mnntewjuifu who^ L pJ/nf d/s /en 

• S.NII f mutt l’7i4 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

she had defended, was one of her friends She 
patronized the Encyclopaedists, even lodging Quesnay 
in her own apartments although, so it hats been 
claimed, she did not understand the Encyclopddte 
and only acted thus from aversion to the pnests It is 
difficult to accept this view, however general it ma}’' be , 
for a woman of Madame de Pompadour’s intelligence 
and discretion would do nothing with her eyes shut 
To Madame de Pompadour France also owes her 
Ecole Miktaire, which was founded m 1756 

Unfortunately, the favounte, who was greedy and 
extravagant, spent enormous sums of money to achieve 
what she did Thanks to the acquits au comptant, 
she was able to procure all the money that wshe wanted 
and her prodigal expenditure made heavj^ demands on 
the Treasury Louis XV, without bemg aware of it, 
spent on or through her sixty million francs One 
million, three hundred thousand francs went on her 
clothes One million, two hundred thousand francs 
were paid to her domestics , three million, five hundred 
and four thousand, three hundred and eighty francs 
were spent on her table , plays or fetes cost another 
four millions , carnages and horses three millions , 
diamonds two miUions , pictures sixty thousand 
francs ; books twelve thousand francs , the upkeep of 
the Chdteau de Cr^cy amounted to six hundred and 
fifty thousand francs , la Celle cost two hundred and 
sixty thousand francs and the three hermitages (at 
Versailles, Fontainebleau and Compi^gne) amounted 
m all to five hundred and twenty-mne thousand, 
three hundred and ninety-five francs Madame de 
Pompadour’s hdtel at Versailles cost two hundred an 
ten thousand, eight hundred and fox ' 

173 





MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

the building alone , and at Pans the H 61 el dEx-mix 
was bought for the Marquise for the sum of »e\en 
hundred and thirty thousand francs and cost nmetj 
five thousand, one hundred and sixty nine francs in 
decorations The Ch&teau de Bellevue swallowed 
hp two millions, five hundred and twent> -su thousand 
nme hundred and twenty-seven francs and the Mar 
guisate of Mtoar, Brimbonon Babiolc Garanciirc 
Denx-Eglisea Bret la Roche la Riviirc robbed the 
Treasury of thirty-six nuHions 
Notwithstanding hia appalling liberality to the 
Marquise de Pompadour, Louis brolce loose from her 
yet once again when despite all her eilorts he embarked 
on a love affair tvnth Mademoiselle Murphy and more 
especially with Mademoiselle dc Romans The 
last-named bore him a son whom the King urged 
solicited and implored by the mother very reluctantly 
consented to acknowledge 
Worried by these hatsons o\*erahclmcd by the 
disasters of the Sci-en Years War worn out by the 
life which she had led sbcc 1745 Madame dc Pompadour 
who since 1756 had sutTered from ^*ioIcnt palpitations 
of the heart grew weaker and weaker but refused to 
recognize the fact She continued to lead wiiat 
called her terrible life , to wea\*c tvnd onraxTl 
intrigues to fight for her power ‘ My life is a battle' 
she murmured s\canedly but she nc\*cr attempted 
to cease the struggle It was painful to see her *0 
emaciated and iU had she become Her weakness did 
not prc\*ent her from repairing to Qioisy but sh** vat 
obliged to take to her bed on the aSih of Tehnury 
17C4 The doctors pronounced her to Ik* sufirnng 
from infiammation of the lungs and ordered I'f to 
X74 



MAROUISE DE POMPADOUR 

I 


take tlie greatest care. She remained at Choisy until 
the 24th of March when both the King and she 
believed that the penod of convalescence had begun. 
A mass for thanksgiving was said m the Marquise’s 
parish and she herself started to journey slowly back 
to Versailles, where she arrived on the 7th of Apnl' 
She had hardly settled in when her malady inci eased 
and the physicians deemed it necessary to warn the 
sick woman that her end must be near. 

Madame de Pompadour received the news of her 
probable demise with absolute mdrfference She was so 
utterly weary, she had struggled so desperately that she 
viewed her end m the light of deliverance. In her 
illness she mamtamed the same sang-froid which she had 
manifested m power, and made aU her last arrangements 
with remarkable lucidity and courage. After she had 
drawn up her wdl, m which she bequeathed the 
Hotel d'Evreux, now the Palais de I’Elys^e, to Louis, 
she turned her attention to the conventions which 
ought to be observed m connection with her death 
It seemed to her that to depart without making her 
confession would be almost an outrage and she asked 
the Kmg whqt he thought about it Louis rephed 
that he should be pleased to see her reconciled to God 
So she sent for the parish priest and confessed accordmg 
to the rules of Holy Church Those about her 
observed that "she was packmg up properly this time ” 
Suffocatmg and unable to remam m bed, she caused 
herself to be 'dressed and apphed rouge to her cheeks 
to conceal her pallor Her toilette completed, she 
received yet once more Janelle, the Postmaster- 
General, and went through the correspondence with 
him , this was her last act of power 

175 



MARQUISE UE POMPADOUR 

During the night of April the I4th-I5th Jtadame 
do Rjmpadour received the last sacrament and this 
ceremony over she then sent for her husband But 
Monsieur d Etioles refused to obey her summons on 
the plea of illness Lotos XV saw the Marquise again 
for the last time after she had rtxci\*cd extreme 
unction Fulfv consaoiis and retaining her strength 
of will to the end she thought of e\'ervtlung c^Tndo\^^ 
to choosing the coach which should conm her remains 
to her house at Versailles and summoning Monsieur dc 
Soublse to take over her keys of office, the dlspla\*ed 
to the very end a rare courage It v.ns not untfl 
se\’cn o'clock m the evening of Apnl the 15th, Palm 
Sunday that she died Not for one single instant 
was her face contorted by the thought of death and 
she never complained nor made a grstiire of impat icnee 

Thus passed at^ay at the age of fortj three, calml) 
and with digtut\ this fawontc who for nineteen jtars 
had made France \'icld to the force of her will Fragile 
and prettv as the S^'res statuettes which France 
to her she was broken b\ her task but noN’anquldied 
She who had seen philosophic France and monarchical 
Europe at her feet had the proud jo^ of dWng at 
Versailles like a Princess of the Blood But hardf\ 
had she breathed hcrlast when rolled up in the ^hcet^ol 
her bed she was hastil} and UDCcrcmonloudj rcmo\Td 
on a stretcher no one troublingabout the Stalecoacb 
which she had arranged should con^f) her remAin^ 
home 

On the 17th of April at six odock in the cxtnirc 
Madame de pompadours funeral prtye^don fom*d 
up at the Church of ^otIT Dame at Vcrsanie^ on it' 

uaj to the Church of the Capuchin' in Parv' Atcrrilff 

j;6 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

storm raged and the wind blew a hurricane winch 
extmguished the torches carried in the coUcgc. The 
King stood bareheaded on his balcony' despite the ele- 
ments and remamed there as long as he could sec 
anything of the funeral procession of the woman who 
had filled such a big place m his life. When the last 
carnage had passed out of sight he re-eniered his 
appariement deeply depiesscd, observing, " That was 
all the honour which I could pay her ! ” 

The church dignitar}^ on whom fell the dut}’ of liold- 
mg the funeral oration proceeded to pay the last 
respects to the dead b}'’ avoiding all mention of her 
life and b}- showing that inasmuch a'^ she had lived \\ ith 
Queen Mane Leezinska, Madame de Pompadour had 
been m the best school of virtue. 

Lastly, Madame de la Tour dc Franquevillc in a 
letter to Jean Jacques Rousseau, wnltcn shortly after 
Madame de Pompadour’s death, remarked : "I am 
not surpnsed to sec the Maiquisc as generally regretted 
as she was generally hated The French are best at 
everything the world over ; so it is only natural that 
they should excel m inconsistenc^^'’ 

But the French people were not mconsistcnt in 
regretting Madame de Pompadour They recalled the 
charm and f ascmation of this witty, elegant woman, who 
was endowed mth so many gifts and who had such a 
strong will beneath her delicate, fragile appearance. 
Posterity pleads as excuse for her inability to measure 
the evil which she wrought that her morals were those 
of her century and that she partially atoned for her 
faults by her good taste, by the generous patronage 
which she extended to artists and men of letters, and 
by the excellent influence she exerted over them 

177 


13 



marquise de pompadour 

Dunng the night of April the 14th 15th Madime 
de Pompadour received the last sacrament and thU 
ceremony over, she then sent for her husband But 
Monsieur d Etioles refused to obey her summons on 
the plea of lUiiess Louis XV saw the Marquise a^ain 
for the last time after she had received extreme 
unctiom Fully consaous and retaining her strength 
of will to the end she thought of es'crvthmg, cs-cn down 
to choosing the coach which should conws her remains 
to her house at Versailles, and summomng Monsieur de 
Soubise to take over her keys of office, the dispIa\Td 
to the verj end a rare courage It was not until 
sewn o clock m the evening of April the 15th fWm 
Sunday that she died Not for one single Instant 
was her face contorted by the thought of death and 
she ne\*er complained nor made a gesture of Impat icnce 

Thus pawed away at the age of fortj three calml> 
and with dignitj this favourite who for nineteen jTars 
had made France \ncW to thn force of her udll Fragile 
and prctt\ as the Sevres statuettes which France owes 
to her she was broken bv her task hut uni’anqui'hrd 
She who had seen philosophic France and monarchical 
Europe at her feet had the proud joj of didag at 
Versailles like a Pnncexs of the Blood But hardi) 
bad she breathed herlast when rolled up in the phccl^ol 
her bed she was hastily and unceremonious!) rrmoNTtl 
on a stretcher no one troubling about the Statccoach 
which she had arranged should conw) her remain* 
home 

On the 17th of Apra at six o dock in the e vrninr 
Madame de Pompadour* funcrnl procession form'**! 
up at the Church of hotre Dame at VerMlUe* rn It* 
wa) to the Church of the Capuchin* in Pan* A t'-rriM- 
176 



MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

fW 

storm raged and the wdnd blew a hurricane which 
extmguished the torches carried in the coHdge. Tlie 
Kmg stood bareheaded on his balcony despite the ele- 
ments and remained there as long as lie could see 
anything of the funeral procession of the woman who 
had filled such a big place in his life. When the last 
carnage had passed out of sight he re-entered his 
appartcvicnt deeply depiesscd, obscr\^mg, "That uas 
all the honour which I could pay her ! " 

The church dignitary on whom fell the dut}* of hold- 
ing the funeral oration proceeded to pay the last 
respects to the dead by avoiding all mention of her 
life and hy showing that inasmuch a'^ she had lived v ith 
Queen Marie Leezmska, Madame de Pompadour had 
been in the best school of virtue 
Lastly, Madame de la Tour de Franqucvillc in a 
letter to Jean Jacques Rousseau, wntten shortly after 
Madame de Pompadour’s death, remarked . " I am 
not surpnsed to see the Maiquise as generally regretted 
as she was generally hated. The French arc best at 
everjdhing the world over ; so it is onl}’’ natural that 
they should excel m mconsistencj^ ’’ 

But the French people ivere not inconsistent m 
regrettmg Madame de Pompadour They recalled the 
charm and f ascmation of this ivitty, elegant woman, who 
was endow'ed with so many gifts and who had such a 
strong will beneath her delicate, fragile appearance. 
Postenty pleads as excuse for her mability to measure 
the evil which she wrought that her morals were those 
of her century and that she partially atoned for her 
faults by her good taste, by the generous patronage 
which she extended to artists and men of letters, and 
by the excellent mfluence she exerted over them. 

177 


MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


SIademoiselle DE Leshnasse w-as one of those 
beings ^\ho are sacrificed before they are bom ^e 
was bom on the wrong side of the blanlct and the 
irregnlanty of her birth was to be a great drawback 
all her life and to prevent her from attaining that 
happiness which, on set'eral occasions •seemed to be 
almost wthm her grasp So pathetic a figure is 'he 
that she has inspired a no\’el * 

Julie Jeanne Eltonore de Lespinas^e was the 
illegitimate daughter of a mamed woman of great 
charm and she too was chiefly acquainted with the 
sad and disappolntmg side of life Julie s mother had 
been married \*ery young to her cousin who like 

herself wras the sole rcpTC 5 cntatj\*c of an illustrious and 
\"ery wealthy Burgundian famfly The relations and 
fnends who urged the momage had no other thought 
than to bring the fortunes of the two branches of the 
family under a smgic control and did not trouble 
thcmscls’cs about the feelings of the ynung peopfr 
The result was that the youthful Comtes*e ddll»on 
was ne\*er happy with her husband, althouph two 
children a boy and a girl wx^re bom to them Aftrr 
four y cars of mamed life there was a legal separation 
Eirrything went to pro\T that the htisliand wa* h 
the wTong for the Countess obtaUiMl sole custody of 
both the children 

Left 50 young without a guardian or anyone to 
advnsrher the Counters whowasofnncff-'ctlnnairard 
I yin W«1 T 

17^ 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

highly imaginative disposition, confided her troubles 
to a -friend who became her lover From this union 
two children were bom out of \\ cdlock, a boy who took 
holy orders while quite young, and the girl who is the 
subject of our sketch. The following certificate of 
baptism records the child's cntrj- into the world 

" On November loth, 1732, was baptized Julie 
Jeanne, Eldonore de Lespinasse, bom 3^csterda3^ 
legitimate daughter of Claude I’Espinassc, citizen of 
Lion (Lyons) and of Julic Navarre, his wife God- 
father, Sieur Louis Basiliac, surgeon, juror of Lion. 
Godmother, Julie Lechot, represented b3^ Madeleme 
Ganivet, wife of the said Sieur Basiliac In the absence 
of the father, two witnesses, together with the god- 
father and godmother have signed instead. 

In testimony thereof . 

Signed • Basiliac, Ambroise, Vicar ” 

Some time later another hand wrote the syllabic 
“ il " before legiUmaie (which thus became illegitimate) 
and deleted the words " his wife ”, putting in the margin 
a cross, the customary symbol of an irregular birth 

It is obvious that this certificate of baptism is false 
The Comtesse d’Albon concealed her identity She 
retired to the house of a doctor in L3^ons, a long dis- 
tance from her own home, there to give birth to her 
child, and the father mentioned m the certificate had 
no existence m fact Claude de I’Espmasse is a fictitious 
name, but Lespmasse was the name of one of the 
Countess’s estates We must not, however, be in a hurry 
to blame her If she lacked the courage openly to 
acknowledge Julie as her daughter, at least she 
chenshed for this child a most tender and devoted 

179 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

maternal love As soon as the little creature could 
leave her foster-mother, the Countess had her brought 
to the Chateau d’Avange where she lavished upon her 
the fondest and most devoted affection Julie was 
brought up With her brother, Camille d Albon «hanng 
in his games and the care bestowed on him It ij 
true tlzat she saw less of her sister Diane d Albon, 
but this was due to the difference of suctecn jiiars 
between them 

Julio at this penod xras perfectly hapj^ But her 
mother was afraid for her she was tom with anxietj 
•when she thought of her little girl s future and of her 
fathers mdifferencc Not one of his contemporaries 
has mentioned this father either from ignorance or 
from fear of his animositj or more probablj , bccaure 
they did not think thej had sufBcient proof to bring 
his name forward We are indebted to Monsieur dc 
S^r for the knowledge that Gaspard de Wchy 
^vas, without any doubt the father of Julie dc 
Lespmasse 

Gaspard dc Vichj ^s-as related to the Comtc^<e 
d Albon b> blood and like all the dc \'ichj'» of hi< 
generation was wilt} highl> cultured and nnturall) 
fascinating but egotistical hard arbitrary cjTikal 
in Ills remarks and unscrupulous m his bchaWour The 
dlsco\*er^ of the^^c traits was forced on the poor Countm 
when after sacrificing c\*crytliing to him ^he fouwJ 
him to be nothing more than a cold and exacting man 
who^e sole intention Ms-as to mam the dnuglder of the 
Comte and Comtc'*^ d Albon For him the po't 
had no existence except for the right it ga\T him to 
dictate to the Countess The unhappv 
but at the enjt of what suffenng 1 
iSo 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


From the day of this marriage her melancholy 
became despair , her religion mysticism, and her 
health was irremediably shaken Consequently she 
tned to impart her secret to Julie. She endeavoured 
to give this unprotected child a taste for monastic life. 
But however dreadful might be the story of her birth, 
Julie had a horror of the life of a convent. She wanted 
to live, to act, to feel , the deeps of life called her. 
The gentle Countess felt herself growmg weaker every 
day and was powerless to alter her daughter's tastes 
At one moment she contemplated rehabilitatmg her m 
the family with the support of the law, which recognized 
then, as it recognizes to-day, aU children bom durmg 
marriage as belonging to the husband. But she dared 
not do so on account of her son-in-law 

Neither dared she bequeath her daughter Julie 
an annual income of more than 300 francs. But 
she accumulated a considerable sum of money for 
her m her desk. In this manner she sought to 
make Julie financially mdependent agamst the time 
when she should be deprived of her mother’s 
protection. 

In order that no one should raise objections to this 
small fortune for her darlmg daughter, Madame 
d’Albon mformed Julie of what she had done, At the 
same time she handed her the key of the desk m which 
the money was locked, and ordered her to say nothmg 
to anybody concemmg the little hoard She also 
added, that as the other children were so much 
better placed, it was only fair that Julie should keep 
this little store for herself Julie gratefully received 
the key of this precious piece of furniture, but promised 
faithfully not to make any use of it 

181 


JtADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

Day by day, tbc Countess decimed in health and 
Julie was scarcely sixteen when this \ti} dear mother 
was taken from her The poor orphan s gnd was 
heart-rending It was feared that she would fall HI 
and in the first days which followed her loss she onij 
regained sufficient composure to hand to her brother 
Camille the key of the desk where her mother thought 
she had amassed enough money to ensure the mdepend 
ence of her belo\’ed daughter 

Thus Julie voluntarily despoiled herself of that which 
would have made her mdependent because with her 
frank and honest nature, she considered she would be 
failing in her dutj to the family if she kept the raonej 
She was soon to Icam that her relations did not intend 
to treat her with a similar dchcacj Indeed partlj 
from chant> and partly from greed the dc \’rchj'S 
suggested tliat she should go and h\*c with them at 
their Chateau Chomprond Thc\ thought that under 
their guardianship she would be unable to pursue the 
idea of rehabilitation which the Countess had medi 
tated Tills idea carried to its logical conclusion would 
ha^ c gi\ en the orphan a share in the mheritonce of the 
Comte and Comtesse d Albon 

Disinherited and alone in the world Afademobrllr 
de Lcspinas^ accepted the offtr of her sL'tcr and 
brother m law and from thb moment her life in their 
home was full of humOiation and suffering Treated 
sometimes as a poor relation from whom countMi 
services are exacted and sometimes as on unp'id 

servant cnjo\ing special privilege^ ihcw-atcontinualli 

oppre<scd tlie care which Gi'pJrd dr- fr-r*! 

to craphatlre her inferjonl> to his wife and him ‘■U 
wjili the object of di'pcllmi. on> lurUrg idea wtHi 
i&a 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


she might have of bnngmg an action agamst them, 
a means to which Julie would not m any case have 
resorted The four years at Champrond were four 
years of moral torture to one so highly strung and 
sensitive as Mademoiselle de Lespmasse. At one tune 
she contemplated withdrawmg to the religious life 
m accordance with her mother's wishes , but m August 
1752, someone came to Champrond who was to change 
the whole course of her existence. 

This unexpected benefactress was none other than 
Gaspard de Vichy’s own sister, the Marquise du 
Deffand. This lady, after a long childhood, passed 
behmd the gnlle of a Benedictme convent m Pans, 
had mamed at the age of twenty-one the Marqms du 
Deffand, a man of lofty birth, but of mediocre mteUi- 
gence, and a mischiefmaker. He mtroduced his young 
Marqmse at the Regent’s Court, and she was thus 
mitiated mto the depraved life of the period and shared 
its extravagance In order to recuperate, after ten 
years of this irregular life, Madame du Deffand obtamed 
a legal separation from her husband, and engaged m 
a senous haison with the President Hinault, an accom- 
plished t5q)e of worldly magistrate, who brought as 
little love to the affair as did the Marquise “ It is 
dehghtful to have you away ”, she wrote to her 
friend, the President And he could think of no truer 
compliment than “ Dear fnend, you are a necessary 
evil ’ ’ This liaison after a tune gave place to friendship 
with people of wit and culture whom the Marqmse now 
sought for the purpose of forming a salon on the model 
of that of the Duchesse du Marne at Sceaux ^ 

’ See La Duchesse du Maine in Princesses, Ladies and A dventuresses 
of the Court of Louis XIV 

183 



I.IABEMOISELIJS BE LESPINASSE 

Since 1747 Marqtiise a. briUiant coD%'er^tK>na3 
1st had been making preparabons to secnre for her old 
age a circle of wtty, cultivated distinguished fnends 
who would meet in her elegant and discreet appatit 
meni m the Convent of Saint-Joseph, which had 
once been occupied by the Marqmsc de Monlcspan * 
WhHc thus engaged she was threatened with blindness 
and alter consulting m vain those who could best 
avert the evil she left Pans discouraged and sought 
solace in the country 

She arrived at Chomprond at the end of August 
i752» when Jolie de Lcsplnassc was seriouslj thinking 
ol leaving it The hardness of middle-age m Sladame 
du DeSand was to soften hy contact with the unhapp} 
youth of Mademoiselle dc Lesplnasse The silent 
depression of the >‘oung girl was to appeal to the 
sympathy ol the dlstQusioncd woman , and out ol the 
meeting of two sorrowful bemgs the spark of friendship 
and hope \vas to be kindled Soon the two women 
had long talks together a proposal ol Madime du 
Dcfland vcr> \'ague at first then more definite to 
take the orphan awa> with her, left MadtmoiwUc de 
Lcspuiosse in a stale of hesitation 

HowciTr after this propo^ which restored her 
soul % lost courage Julic found life at Oiampmnd 
absolutch unbearable A few weeks later she left 
the home where she had suflcred to much bv strslth 
and sought refuge at L>*ons From thK toon the 
>'Oung girl alwax's so confiding and loxmg vrmtr- an 
affectionate frank and sorrowful letter to h'T liuth'-r 
Camille In whldi she describeel her fun<*nnp at 


f/ (1/ CrW #/ Ix^uXll 

1^4 



PLATE. XIII 



MARIE DE VICHY CHAMPROND MARQUISE DU DEFFAND 

1697-1780 


Print after Carmolelle’s portrait 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


Champrond and asked him to help her to forget them 
by paymg the moderate annual income which she 
required in order to be received as a boarder m a convent 
at Lyons It was but a trifling sum in comparison 
with the real fortune which Julie had presented to 
her brother when she handed him the key of the 
mystenous desk, and of which he had never given her a 
penny. But whatever he might owe to this simple 
child, CaimUe had no mtention of remembermg it. 
So he only replied m a few hard, cold words ordermg 
her to return to Champrond without delay. Camille, 
mdeed, was far more afraid of Madame du Deffand's 
proposal to which Julie had alluded in her letter, than 
of the convent at Lyons. The whole family trembled 
lest Julie, if she went to Pans, might, on the advice of 
Madame du Deffand and her friends, reconsider 
the Comtesse d’Albon's idea of rehabilitation. The 
disappointment caused by Canulle’s letter of refusal 
decided Juhe's departure to Pans, which was, moreover, 
advised by Cardmal de Tencin. This departure took 
place in the second half of April, 1754 
Julie de Lespinasse was now twenty-two and formed 
both m mmd and body She had every quality which 
made for beauty, and yet she was not pretty Perhaps 
she might have been considered prettier if her head 
had been larger For no feature could show to full 
advantage m the small amount of space available 
in such a little head. Her neck was slender, but lacked 
that graceful curve which sets off the face Her brown 

hair was very luxuriant, but it had the eflect of bemg 
too heavy for the tmy head over which it noted in every 
direction A roguish little nose with an upward tilt 
which expressed the mischief, humour and whimsicality 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

of Julie 8 character imparted animation to the 
perfect oval of the face while her magnificent deepset 
dark eyes expressed all her passion and vivacity She 
had her gentle mother s eyes but they were much more 
sparkling much finer and altogether more expressive 
Everything that MademoiseDe de Lespmasse thought 
or felt was immediately reflected m her face 9ie 
was tan slim well made and distinguished The 
plainness of her dress was almost monastic yet its 
simple seventy in no way detracted from her grace. 
She had an exceedingly easy carnage which was m 
complete harmony with her lithe graceful movements 
Since she was so nchfy dowered it is difficult to under 
stand how honest d Alembert could write to her on 
one occasion I will not speak of vour face , you 
yourself do not attach any importance to It One 
of her biographers was to write ‘ She was anythtag 
but beautiful but her ugliness was attractive * 

The most attractive thing about Juhe de Lespmasse 
was undoubtedly her moral personality A more 
loyal nature than hers never existed Incapable of 
pettiness there were no limits to her devotion and her 
thoughtfulness accomplished wonders She wanted 
to please and to be sympathetic to all with uhom she 
came m contact The mdificrence even of humble 
acquaintances caused her profound discomfort 
With her to please was a ventable instmet a nccessitj 
of nature And very useful too was this charming 
necessity for it gave to Mademoiselle dc Lespmasse 
her understanding of the mind heart and soul of those 
around her and inspired the means bj v> hich she raised 
them to her own level in supplying what thej lacked 
Those who aare fond of Jidie de Lespinasse ivcrc wittj 
186 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


and gay as herself when in her company. In the face 
of such unusual gifts, is it not easy to forgive her 
for “ likmg grammar far too much ”, and for bemg 
“ often rather cross and uneven-tempered ” ? ^ 

But this was not the disquietmg pomt m Mademoiselle 
de Lespmasse's character It was her excitability m 
love that upset the balance of her life and made a 
mart5nr of her She would recognize no obstacle when 
she loved, and passion made her violent and ungovern- 
able to the pomt of madness. 

Madame du Deffand longed for Mademoiselle de 
Lespmasse’s arrival m Pans with all the strength of 
her impenous will She already called her “ my 
queen ”, and prepared the young girl’s reception with 
a care, a skill and an energy full of warm affection, and 
tact ” An orphan who is as distmguished as she is 
unfortunate ”, she told her cucle ” Sensitive, 
mtelligent, endearing " So Madame du Deffand’s 
circle impatiently awaited Mademoiselle de Lespmasse 
and loved her almost before she appeared. It was 
quite another matter after they had actually expen- 
enced the warmth of those affections, the charm of 
that wit which made other wits sparkle, and the 
vigour of that activity which put life mto ever3rthmg 

Consequently almost the whole circle sighed for 
Mademoiselle de Lespmasse The earliest victims 
were the Chevalier d'Aydis , the President Hdnault, 
who wanted to marry her, and de Taaffe, an Irish 
cadet, the first person to make Juhe’s heart beat 
Madame du Deffand disapproved of her protigie's 
love for the young Inshman She even forbade her 

^ Portrait m verse of Mademoiselle de Lespmasse by one of the 
habitudes of the Saint- Joseph salon f 


MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

queen * to have any private convereatxon with the 
foreigner But however desirous Juhe might be to 
please her benefactress, and fond of her as she was 
in this particular instance she openly opposed her 
Mademoiselle de I-espmasse eiqjenencing for the first 
time an emotion akm to passion betrayed something 
of that impetnosity of sentiment which later on was 
to make her sacrifice all for love In spite of Madame 
du Deffand s orders, Jnlie sought ont de Taafie m the 
Marqnise s udon, redoubled her attentions was more 
amiable than ever and arranged several tiia 

with him Madame du Defend who was astonished 
and annoyed made the young girl remain in her own 
room when the Irishman called Julie submitted 
with a bad grace and when she was allowed to come 
down to the salon again she did not hide the pam 
which the cadet s absence caused her 

Now in Madame du Defend s salon there was a man 
whose feelings for Jnlie were far deeper and more ardent 
than those of the cadet This man was a prominent 
figure in Pans and Europe generally He ^va5, 
perhaps the most welcome among the visitors to the 
appariemtni m the convent of Saint-Joseph m any 
case he was the visitor whom Madame du Defend 
was proudest to receive She had even schemed to 
lure him away from Madame Geoilrin * and now 
that she had captured him she \vas jealous of his 
friendship and presence as she had never been jealous 
of any lover in the days of her youth This man 
was d’Alembert the philosopher From the moment 
when he had observed the orphan in the Marquise s 

talon he lost both his senseofproportion and his peace 
* Seo clttpter oo Gtiffrit 

x88 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


of mmd This young girl appeared to him whoUy 
lovable, even to those very traits and gestures disliked 
by others. He would have been unhappy if an5d;hmg 
had been changed m her. From the day on which he 
first saw Juhe de Lespmasse she alone reigned m his 
heart. Julie had now become Madame du Deffand’s 
reader, and very soon her interestmg, animated con- 
versation, which was at the same time so light and 
tactful, charmed d’Alembert to such an extent that he 
suddenly lost all taste for the brilliant, trenchant 
wit of the lady of the house, m spite of its sparkle 
and ongmEility. To converse freely with Mademoiselle 
de Lespmasse on all questions in which he was absorbed 
or interested now seemed one of the greatest and 
sweetest of life’s pleasures. D’Alembert thought he 
might procure this pleasure by amvmg at Madame 
du Deffand’s house before she was ready to receive 
her guests, m which case her place would be taken by 
the young reader The Marquise went to bed very 
late and often lay awake far mto the mght, listenmg 
while Julie read aloud hour after hour To make up 
for the sleep which forsook her at mght she spent 
the greater part of the day m bed, and did not appear 
before her guests until close upon six o'clock m the 
evenmg 

It was easy for d’Alembert to carry out his plan for 
a talk with Mademoiselle de Lespmasse He made 
the attempt and was delighted . He had never expected 
to enjoy half the pleasure which he derived from the 
first tUe-a~Ute with Julie So, the next day he arrived 
a little earlier and his pleasure was doubled En- 
couraged by the success of his venture, d’Alembert 
made a habit of amvmg earlier and earlie 

189 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPmASSE 

Convent of Samt-Joseph and one day he begged 
Mademoiselle de Lespmasse to admit him to her room 
so that they might talk yet earlier m the aftemooiL 
The young giri s room in no way resembled a lalon 
It was small badly fornished, and an attic Bat 
to use it for the reception of d Alembert was to 
mcrease their mteUectual enjoyment a hundredfold 
So Julie yielded to his request and henceforward the 
philosopher could take his fnends with him to enjoy her 
conversation Turgot Marmontel, Chastellux and 
many others shared this treat So it was that before 
Madame du Defiand opened her salon a btinau 
(Tespnt had been held for hours under her roof 
The shrewd iftirquise felt that something irregular 
was going on In the first month after Jnhe s arrival 
she had been consaous of d Alembert s defection. 
Soon she became jealous and suspicions of her proilgit 
She tned to spy on her and humiliate her She length 
ened the nocturnal reading hours on piupcr^c to bore 
and tire her reader She used her subtle and sharp 
wit every day more frequently to have a fling at her 
and woimd her with pm pricks In short the un 
pleasantness became more and more marked until the 
moment when through a servant smdiscretwn Madame 
du Dcffand leamt the truth 
It was the end of April 1764 exactly ten years 
since the amval of the young country girl whose 
qualities and charms made her all unwilliiigiy and 
unwittingly her employer's rival 

Madame du Deffand 5 anger was terrible She cried 
out that she had been betrayed unforgettable words 
were spoken by both women If it had not been for 
her I should have kept d Alembert Madame du 
190 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


DeEand repeated over and over m exasperated and 
despainng tones. The}^ separated abniptl}^ It was 
d’Alembert who took the initiative and made the 
arrangements He loved Mademoiselle dc Lespinasse 
too much to allow her to be exposed to I^Iadame du 
DeEand’s hatred. But Julie, who had received no 
salary’’ from Madame du DeEand, was without means, 
and d’Alembert was poor. His love made him ingeni- 
ous He interested all their mutual friends m 
Mademoiselle de Lespmasse’s fate. 

And so it happened that the President Hdnault, 
Madame du DeEand’s real lover, Turgot, d’Ussd, and 
Madame de Chatillon. got up a subscription for her 
The Mardchale de Luxembourg presented her with 
a complete set of furniture Madame GcoErin 
oEered the purchase of three Vanloos to the Empress 
of Russia, and kept the sum realized for Mademoiselle 
de Lespmasse These three pictures fetched ten 
thousand crowns, to which Madame GeoErm added 
a pension of three hundred crowns Julie w'as able 
with part of this money to move house On the other 
hand, the money which remamed and what she 
received from all her friends and admirers gave her a 
a yearly mcome of eight thousand, five hundred 
hvres It was more than she had ever possessed or 
dared to hope for. It was even suificient to justify 
the boldness which had prompted d’Alembert and 
Julie to choose the rue Saint-Domimque quite close 
to the convent of Samt-Joseph, as the residence of 
Madame du DeEand’s former reader 

But Julie had hardly settled m her new a'^de 
when, as a result of fatigue and emotional e 
she feU a victim to that terrible disea^ 

191 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

which throoghcrat the centuries has never ceased to 
ravage the towns of France D Alembert without a 
moment s hesitation instaBed himself at the mvahd s 
bedside and battled for her life with death His 
devotion and skilful nursmg tnumphed gloriously 
over the scourge bnt Julie was scarcely convalescent 
when d Alembert was stncken by the same aickness 
She repaid the philosopher with equal care and 
devotion and she, too succeeded in snatching the 
victim 'from death so that d Alembert m his turn 
entered on a period of convalescence 
These two illnesses had proved to d'Alembert and 
the orphan how necessary they were to each other 
and how absolutely they could count on one another 
So m the autumn of 1765 d Alembert consented to 
make his home with Jnlie de Lespinasse who became 
the most devoted of sisters to the philosopber Every 
one approved of this arrangement and henceforth no 
one thought of inviting one without the other or 
of supposing that Mademoiselle de Lespinasse and 
d Alembert could hve apart They were stiH less able 
to do so now <<ince it was d Alembert s ambition that 
his friends should make Julie s talon theirs The idea 
of opening a new salon in Pans in 1765 might be con 
sidered a very rash proceedmg seeing that all grades 
of society the wits mduded had their own The 
philosophers men of letters artists and the thinkers 
m Europe generally congregated round Madame 
Geoffnn sfauUttil * Madame du Deffand presided over 
the society in which moved the greater wits and people 
of birth Madame Neckcr had large phflosophtcal and 
soaal parties Numbers of other talons catered for 
* So® the cluiptcr co 
I9Z 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


less senoTis and more worldly, or more specialized 
tastes Consequently, d’Alembert’s ambition that 
Mademoiselle de Lespmasse should have a salon 
of her own would appear, to say the least, 
irrational 

D’Alembert knew that if the philosophers and 
encyclopaedists met at Madame Geoffrin’s, the encyclo- 
paedists, m particular, would find but little freedom. 
The mistress of the house had a gift rather for organiza- 
tion than mspiration She pigeon-holed the ideais 
which she had acquired but was never impelled to derive 
new ones from them Julie de Lespmasse would exert 
a very different mfluence. Her mtellect, throbbmg 
with life, her wann, supple wit, would lead the thmkers 
ever onwards So d’Alembert msisted, and soon 
this unpretentious salon at which neither supper nor 
dmner was served, became the favourite rendezvous 
of the encyclopaedists There, released from the 
artistic atmosphere m which they languished at 
Madame Geoffrm’s, and mspired by the mtellect and 
wit of the mistress of the house, who, smkmg herself 
m others, took an mtense and personal interest m aU 
the discussions, respected everybody’s mdividuality, 
and had the gift of givmg a deeper significance to 
the ideas of those who conversed with her, these 
rising men developed and grew as they had never done 
anywhere else Mademoiselle de Lespmasse’s salon 
was less brilliant than those bom before hers, but it 
had a much more substantial mfluence on the progress 
of ideas and its effect on -'society was greater, more 
immediate and more effectual 

Yet after five or six years Julie was unhappy because 
the simple friendship which she had for d’ 

193 



MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

which throughout the centunes has never ceased to 
ravage the towns of France D Alembert without a 
moment s hesitation installed himself at the invalid s 
bedside and battled for her life with death His 
devotion and skilful norsmg trramphed ^nouslv 
over the scourge, but Jube was scarcely convalescent 
when d’Alembert was stricken by the same sickness 
She repaid the philosopher with equal care and 
devotion and she too succeeded in snatching the 
victim 'irom death so that d Alembert in his turn 
entered on a period of convalescence 
These two illnesses had proved to d Alembert and 
the orphan how necessary they were to each other 
and how absolutely they could count on one another 
So m the antumn of 1765 d Alembert consented to 
make his home with Julie de Lesphiasse who become 
the most devoted ofsisters to the philosopher Every 
one approved of this arrangement and henceforth no 
one thought of invitmg one without the other or 
of supposmg that Mademoiselle de Lespmasse and 
d Alembert could live apart They were still less able 
to do 80 now ‘unce it was d Alembert's ambition that 
his fnends should make Julie s zalon thdrs The idea 
of opening a new zalon m Pans in 1765 might be con 
sidered a very rash proceedmg seeing that all grades 
of society the wits Included bad their own The 
philosophers, men of letters artists and the thinkers 
m Europe generally congregated round Madame 
Geoffnn sfautanl * ifadnme du Dcfland presided o^rr 
the society m which moved the greater wits and people 

of birth Madame Necker had large philosophical and 

soaal parties Numbers of other talons catered for 
* Se« tb« on C^cffrln 

19 * 



mademoiselle de lespinasse 

less serious and more wo^ld]5^ or more spccialirxd 
tastes. Consequently, d’Alemberi's ambition that 
Mademoiselle de Lespinasse should have a snlou 
of her owm would appear, to say the least, 
irrational. 

D’Alembert knew that if the philosophers and 
encyclopsedists met at Madame Gcoffrm s, the cnej clo- 
peedists, m particular, would find but little freedom. 
The mistress of the house had a gift rather for organi7a- 
tion than inspnation. She pigeon-holed the ideas 
which she had acquired but was never impelled to dcrii c 
new ones from them. Julie de Lespinasse would exert 
a very different mfluence. Her intellect, throbbing 
with life, her warm, supple wit, would lend the thinkers 
ever onwards So d’Alembert insisted, and soon 
this unpretentious salon at wdnch neither supper nor 
dinner was served, became the favourite rendezvous 
of the encyclopasdists. There, released from the 
artistic atmosphere in which thc)’^ languished at 
Madame Geoffrin’s, and inspired by the intellect and 
wit of the mistress of the house, W'ho, sinking herself 
m others, took an mtensc and personal interest m all 
the discussions, respected everybody’s individuahtjf, 
and had the gift of giving a deeper significance to 
the ideas of those who conversed with her, these 
. nsmg men developed and grew as they had never done 
anywhere else Mademoiselle de Lespinasse’s salon 
w^as less brilliant than those bom before hers, but it 
had a much more substantial mfluence on the progress 
of ideas and its e^ect on ^society was greater, more 
inunediate and more effectual 

Yet after five or six years Julie was unhappy because 
the sunple friendship which she had for d’Alembert 

^93 


MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

did not satisfy her any more than the limited pleasures 
of society and literature She discovered m her 
heart a hunger for love seH-sacnfice and suffering 
It was ]ust^ at this time that the Marquis de Mora 
entered her life Mamed at the age of twelve to a 
woman whom he had never loved de Mora became 
a widower at twenty At the age of twenty two he 
met m December, 1766 Julie de Lespinaase whose 
passionate nature took fire at his beauty and 
distinction 

‘ A face full of kmdness and charm which inspires 
confidence and friendship a character sweet 

and pliant without being insipid a gentle passion 
without fire a mind strong sonnd full of light 
and shade a heart t Ah what a heart 1 In a 
word this man realues my idea of perfection 1 
wrote Juhe de Lespmasse on the evening (Decem- 
ber 19th 1766) when she had first met the Marquis 
de Mora 

Two years later this man who was so much admired 
asked Julie de Lespuiasso to become his wife but he 
was only twenty four and Juhe was thlrtv-six ! He 
belonged to one of the noblest families in Spam and 
she had nothing but a borrowed name I ' Wo 1o\t 
each other, therefore we are equal in ovcrythlog . 
he said to Julie But though thi» creature of lo\‘0 
might quiver and tremble with passion she refused to 
saddle the man whom she adored with a maturity 
that might one day become irksome nor cause him tu 
blush for her ignoble birth They steeped thcniscl\'rt 
m a feverish platomc love while Julio remamed firm 
in her resolution \Vhen they were separated by both 
milltarj and paternal authority JuHe spent her life m 



1 


MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


waiting for letters from Spam. Their arrival twice a 
week threw her mto a fever and convulsions In 
August, 1771, the Marquis de Mora’s sudden return 
to Pans plunged Julie de Lespmasse once more mto 
an intoxicating love, as pure as it was enthralling 
But the Marquis \vas stricken by consumption, of which 
he was to die, and August was to be the last happy 
month of these delights. 

The love of Julie de Lespmasse and the Marquis de 
Mora which was so beautiful and so ardent, was but 
the first stage m this fiery soul’s progress along the 
path of passion. The person to replace the Marquis 
de Mora m the heart of his mistress was his opposite 
both m appearance and mentality It was Guibert, 
whom the eighteenth century, especially the \vomen, 
admired to distraction La Harpe, not without 
justification, scornfully remarked " He aims at 
nothing less than fillmg the place of Turenne, Corneille 
and Bossuet.” With him the excitement and turbu- 
lence of passion took the place of love. He treated 
Julie de Lespmasse as he had treated manj^ w^omen 
Attractive and persistent before obtaining the desired 
favour , mdifferent and brutal as soon as he was 
satisfied “ You do not know me as I am ”, Julie 
de Lespmasse wrote to him in heart-rendmg letters 
of love and regret , “ Remember, I can face suffering 
and death, and tell me, after that, if I am like those 
women who can but please and amuse i ” or agam 
” Oh 1 1 hate you for havmg taught me hope, fear, pam 
and pleasure ” 

It was in February, 1772}., that Julie surrendered to 
Guibert’s caprice This fact made so deep an impres- 
sion on her life that on the anmversar}’’ of the day m the 




MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

following year she wrote at midiught ' It was on the 
loth of Febniary last year that I was intoxicated with 
a poison of which I stfll feel the effects ' But this 
intoxication m no wise lessened her sufferings ’ My 
fnend I suffer every instant of my bfe , I love you 
and am waiting for yon ’ 

He made her wait so long that m order to forget 
the hours Julie de Lespinasse who had no longer the 
strength to bear such snffermg, took opium and killed 
herself little 1 ^ little * I have only known hell, 
and sometimes heaven I * Oh God I How 

natural passion is to me I and what a stranger I 
am to reason! Julie better than anyone knew 
her own weakness She knew she would never be 
cured of it she admitted it and her avowal and 
power to love and suffer are at once startling and 
pitiful How empty was this heart which had the 
capaaty to love so much I 
When m July 1776 opium and love had done 
their work of destruction the unhappy d Alembert 
after paying the last rites to the dead, set about the 
painful task of selecting and sorting tlje papers which 
she had left behmd Among the faded sheets he found 
many letters from the Marquis de Mora still more from 
Guibert (none of them however, lovcdetters) , but 
not a single letter of hli own had been kept by the 
woman whom he had loved so much 1 Many and manj 
a time did d Alembert go through the closely written 
sheets but not one bore his name 1 ' I have lost sixteen 
years of my life I he exclaimed when he finally 
rcallied that Julie a fiery soul had never understood 
his discreet and sober friendship 
And yet, it was largely due to d^Alemhcrt that 
196 



]\IADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 


Julie de Lespinasse, with no name, no beauty, no 
fortune, was able to create one of the most fashionable 
salons m an epoch which counted them by the dozen 
But it IS only fair to add that notwithstanding d’Alem- 
bert's help and will, Julie de Lespmasse would never 
have exerted so profound and illuminatmg an 
mfluence upon her century had she not been gifted 
with a sympathetic and bnlliant wit of her own, and 
an enthusiastic and affectionate nature 


197 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


MARIE THiRfeSE RICHARD DE RUFFEY 
MARQXItSE DE MONNIER CALLED SOPHIE 
DE MONNIER 

Never did love occupy so promment a place in the 
life of France as in the second half of the eighteenth 
century It appeared under its many forms 
tyrannical heroic brazen and furtive robust and 
insane It was to be met with everywhere in the verj 
highest classes as well as among the people and the 
boitrgiotste and everywhere it was vaned and diverse 
as never before Often a pair of lovers would present 
the most startling contrast unagmahle Such iitis 
the luitacm between Mirabeau and the Manjtuse de 
llonnier which is one of the most striJang of these 
amaiing cases 

Their convulsive and most pathetic romance is not 
the story of two beings attracted to each other by 
similar tastes who are so much alike that in the end 
their identities become merged m common desires and 
sentiments On the contrary their passion was as 
fundamentally different os their hearts and characters 
Mirabeau s fiery ardour was mingled ^Nith that itnpu 
dence and inconsistency which the future tribune \ras 
to bnng into his political life The Marquise de 
Monmer hkc the expiring Roj-alty encountered the 
most unexpected and sudden changes In Mirabeau* 
behaviour He who set snares for the monarch) 
and cmpIo)*cd the same passion to ^'*0 It as he had 
198 



GABRIEL HONORE BlQUETl DE MIRABEAU 
March 1749 April 1791 The greatest orator of [he French Revolution 




A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

done to compass its downfall, began by intoxacatmg 
his mistress with the ardour and constancy of his love, 
only to end by throwmg her into despair over his 
change of mood 

Sophie de Monnier, very different from Mirabeau, 
brought to this liaison, a gentleness, a self-effacement, 
a subnussiveness, a boundless tenderness, and a 
faithful love which never lessened Thus the lovers 
formed a complete contrast, and it is only after 
stud5nng their characters, Mirabeau’s especially, that 
one IS able fully to understand their story 

Gabriel Honors Biqueti de Mirabeau was bom at 
the Chateau de Bignon (Loiret) on the 9th of March, 
1749, and m him all the gifts of his race and aU its 
passions found their strongest expression His family, 
Italian in ongm', had early settled m the south of 
France , its members were possessed of strong feelmgs, 
violent tempers and passionate, sensual natures 
Jean Antome de Mirabeau, an ancestor of our hero, 
had such power to mspire love that at the age of 
forty, although he had but one arm, for he had lost 
the other m the war, although he wore a silver collar 
to keep his head erect and was not only mutilated by 
wounds but a prey to frequent and terrible outbursts 
of passion, nevertheless so captivated Mademoiselle 
Frangoise de Castellane that she determmed to marry 
him at all costs and vowed to him a love as ardent 
as it was ecstatic ' 

A son of this Jean Antome and Mademoiselle de 
Castellane owed his career to the tender affection of the 
Margrave de Bajneuth 

Vauvenargues, wishmg to descnbe the character of 
Gabnel Honord’s father, who was one of his fnends, 

199 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

said to ham You my dear Mirabeau are fieiy, 
choleric and tender, prouder more restless, and more 
unstable than the sea inordinately greedy for pleasure, 
for love, for knowledge for honour” The same 
Mirabeau said of himself at the age of twenty five 
* Sensuality has become the tyrant of my imagination 
to violate conventions is to me second nature ’ 

All these characteristics were repeated in Sophie 
de Momuer's lover with greater whimsicality and 
mconsequence but although Mirabeau was as fiery 
as his father, he was tree from the brutality, tyranny 
and arrogance which characterlied the latter 
Gabriel Honors de Mirabeau a tendency to strong and 
sensual passions was aggravated during his r hfldh ood 
and adolescence by his father*s injustice Monsieur 
de Mirabeau could not forgive his son the nghness of 
his face Now this ugliness did not date from birth 
It was the result of a too drastic and unwise treatment 
to which the Marquise de Mirabeau had subjected 
the child when he was but three years old, in order 
to cure him of amall-poi. The father, irritated by 
this face pitted seamed and unpleasant to the cje, 
treated his son with the harshest severity, ne\cr 
showing him the slightest indulgence and exerdsiog 
the most brutal authonty over a boy whose passionate 
nature needed a very gentle discipline His sole 
kindness consisted m supplying his son with excellent 
tutors The young man who was as marvellously 
intelligent as be was keen, made splendid use of his 
lessons They were the most lasting of all his pleasures 
when he began to go out into the world for his father 
allowed him no liberty, no initiative going e\en so far 
as to force him to enter a regiment which was almost 
aoo 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

entirely composed of young people under the direct 
supervision of the Royal police. 

Nevertheless, the youthful Comte de Mirabeau 
married of his own accord, on the 23rd of June, 1772. 
His bnde was Mademoiselle Eimlie de Mangnan, of 
whom he himself remarked, and justly, that “ she had 
neither the virtues nor the vices essential to stabilize 
his affections and his temperament ” 

This marriage gave the Marquis de Mirabeau an 
opportunity of displaymg the most hard-hearted 
severity The young couple began their married life 
with debts four times as big as their income and with 
no capital The youthful count, perceivmg that he 
^ could never equalize his position, entered upon a wild 
and reckless orgy of expenditure, bu3ang more and 
more diamonds for the Countess, givmg magnificent 
parties and sigmng whatever he was asked, without 
paymg the remotest attention to his debts. 

His father who, £ls we have seen, had no affection for 
him, only thought of the difficulties that such behaviour 
would create for the family, and hastened to take 
the necessary steps to obtam an mjunction agamst 
his son He canned the day on the 8th of June, 1774, 
and on the 20th of the foUowmg September, young 
Mirabeau was confined m the Chateau d'lf and a little 
later in the Chateau de Joux At the tune that 
Mirabeau left for the Chateau d’lf he was already 
the father of a boy and the Countess was expectmg to 
be a mother agam The young husband thought 
that ties such as these should be sufficient to decide 
her to foUow him mto captivity But the Countess 
refused, timidly at first, but later openly Mirabeau, 
disappomted, considered that such conduct released 


201 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


said to him * You, my dear Mirabeau am fierv 
cholenc and tender, prouder more restless, anij more 
unstable than the sea inordmately greedy for pleasure, 
for love for knowledge, for honour ’ The same 
Mirabeau said of himself at the ago of twenty five 
" Sensuality has become the tyrant of my imagination 
to violate conventions is to me second natnre ” 

All these characteristics were repeated m Sojhie 
de Monnieris lover with greater whimsicality and 
mconsequence but although Mirabeau was as fieiy 
as his father he was free from the brutality tyranny 
and arrogance which characterfied the latter 

Gabnel Honors de Mirabean s tendency to strong and 
sensual passions was aggravated during his childhood 
and adolescence by his father's injustice Monsieur 
de Mirabeau could not forgive his son the ugliness of 
his face Now this iig imesfl did not date from both 
It was the result of a too drastic and tmwise treatmest 
to which the Marquise de Mirabeau had subjected 
the child when he was but three years old, in order 
to cure him of small pox. The father, irritated by 
this face pitted seamed and unpleasant to the eye, 
treated his son with the harshest seventy, ne^'e^ 
showing him the slightest mdulgence and exercising 
the most brutal authonty over a boy whoso passionate 
nature needed a very gentle discipline His sole 
kmdnes* consisted m supplying hh son with excellent 
tntors The young rnan who was as marvellously 
intelligent as he was keen, made splendid use of hb 
lessons They were the most lasting of all his pleasures 
when he began to go out into the world, for his father 
allowed him no Ubertj no initiative, going tven so far 
as to force him to enter a regiment which ii\tis almost 
200 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


entirely composed of young people under the direct 

supervision of the Royal police. 

Nevertheless, the youthful Comte de Mirabeau 
married of his own accord, on the 23rd of June, 1772* 
His hnde was Mademoiselle Emilie de Mangnan, of 
whom he himself remarked, and justly, that “ she had 
neither the virtues nor the vices essential to stabilize 
his affections and his temperament 

This marriage gave the Marquis de jMuabeau an 
opportunity of displaymg the most hard-hearted 
seventy The young couple began then married life 
with debts four tunes as big as their income and with 
no capital The youthful count, perceiving that he 
^ could never equalize his position, entered upon a wild 
and reckless orgy of expenditure, buymg more and 
more diamonds for the Countess, givmg magnificent 
parties and signmg whatever he was asked, without 
paying the remotest attention to his debts. 

His father who, as we have seen, had no affection for 


him, only thought of the difficulties that such behaviour 
would create for the family, and hastened to take 


the necessary steps to obtam an m]unction against 
his son He earned the day on the 8th of June, 1774, 
and on the 20th of the following September, young 
Muabeau was confined m the Chateau d'lf and a httle 


later in the Chateau de Joux At the time that 
Mirateau left for the Chateau d’lf- he was already 
the father of a boy and the Countess was expecting to 
be a mother agam The young husband thought 
that ties such as these should be sufficient to decide 
her to follow him mto captivity But the Countess 
refused tumdiy at first, but later openly Mirabeau 
dmppomted. considered that such conduct 


201 


i 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

lum from all duty towards his wife and henceforward 
he sought to replace her in his heart 

An opportunity did not occur at the Gifttcau d If 
but to make up for this it presented itself easily and 
m charming guise at the very begummg of his mcar- 
ceration m the fortress of Joux. 

The httle town of Pontarlier is quite close to this 
prison and here there lived at that time a woman who 
was infinitely charming and capable of the most dis- 
mterested and passionate love She was twenty-one 
and had been married for four years to the Bfarqols 
de Monnier the first President of the Chatnbre ia 
Comptez at D61e Manc-Thdrtee Sophie Richard 
de Ruffey was only seventeen when she married the 
l^quis de Monnier a man of sixty five who did not 
hesitate to tell anyone who cared to listen that be had 
not the smallest love for his wife He had roamed 
merely to annoy his daughters in general and one m 
particular So this union was not only ]0>les5 and 
imromantic but lacking in that prudence and refine- 
ment which m default of love might have assured a 
good understanding 

Everybody m thp little town knew that the Marquis 
de Monnier had married the daughter of his colleague 
de RuSey President of the Chatnbre des Coinpiez at 
Di]on because in taking her he was saved the trouble 
of lookmg for a wife and because she suited his purpose 
as well os another So the opportunists who rejoice 
to see homes broken up that they may reap an advan- 
tage expatiated in the presence of the young v.ifc on 
her husband a indifierence to her They were raptur 
ous m their praise of her attructlons, and eloquent 
in their admiration of her beauty 

303 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

It was easy to praise, for, although Madame de 
Monnier was not one of those pretty, graceful, refined 
types, there was, nevertheless, something dazzlmg 
m her beauty Perfect health gave her a wonderful 
pink and white complexion and her mcipient plump- 
ness served but to conceal the angularities of her figure 
without detractmg from its grace She had a pair of 
magnificent and very gentle dark eyes with delicately 
defined eye-lashes and eyebrows like those of La 
Glaconda, which gave her, as m the case of the latter, 
a unique expression and lent beauty to the eyes by 
throwmg them mto high relief Her brow was broad 
and mtelligent, and her round face betokened kmdliness. 
Her chin might have been a little longer, but such as it 
was it m no wise spoiled her face, and her exqmsite 
teeth made ample amends for any imperfection of her 
chm She was tall, very weU made and admirably 
proportioned. Her disposition enhanced her beauty 
One could read m her face the great kmdness which 
always made her smk herself m others Her wit was 
spontaneous, simple, natural and charmmg, artless 
and yet roguish, but without the slightest spite, always 
amusmg and apposite 

Among the young dandies who overwhelmed Madame 
de Moimier with attentions and compliments, one of 
the most persistent was the Marquis de St Mauns, 
Governor of the pnson at the Fortress of Joux, and, 
consequently, the person ,an whose hands lay Count 
Mirabeau’s destmies The young woman did not 
bestow on Monsieur de St Mauns any of those special 
favours which he ardently desired, but he was one of 
the mtimate fnends of the house and often went there 
at the time when Gabnel Honors de Mirabeau was 

203 



A MISTRESS OF MRABEAU 

placed under his charge At this penod Monsieur de 
Montperreux who was, quartered m the same district, 
visited the de Monniera just as assiduously He was 
a better hand at paying a prettv compliment than 
Monsieur de St Mauris, and now that the young wife 
was aware of her charms she delighted in hearing 
them enumerated The spirit of the eighteenth century 
had invaded Pontariier liky? the rest of France and 
here as elsewhere the court paid to the young Marquise 
was by turns mtellectual, sentimental, fnvolous and 
sometimes passionate It was because at certain times 
the heart of the young wife was tonched hy these 
gallantries that she fdt a great sympathy for Monsieur 
de Montperreux and on several occasions did not 
hesitate to extricate him from some rather serious 
financial difficulties 

But her was remained at Pontariier 

It was commented on and exaggerated , and soon tales 
were Spread which had no foundation in fact People 
went so far as to insmuate that a guilty intimw^ existed 
between the neglected wife and the handsome officer, 
whereas in rcahty Madame do Monnler had nothing 
serious with which to reproach herself The Comte 
de Mirabean heard these rumours when visiting Pontar* 
Her m his wallcs abroad Monsieur de St Mauris, 
charmed with the wit the amiability and the many 
gifts of his prisoner gave him full liberty to leave 
the fortress and amuse himself in the neighbouring 
towns and even to attend social gatherings in the 
district Only one condition was attached to these 
various concessions, namely that the Count should 
always return to the Chdteau de Joux no matter 
how late at night or bow early in the morning So 
304 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


Mirabeau was able to follow without any difficulty the 
development of the slander and calumny and even to 
obtain an mtroduction to the Marquise. 

It was the most opportune moment for making her 
acquamtance Madame de Monmer, troubled and 
hurt by all this baseless tittle-tattle, sought a friend 
on whom she might lean, a counsellor to gmde and 
support her Mirabeau, with his keen mtelligence and 
intuition, saw at once how he could turn the situation 
to account He determined to profit mstantly by the 
circumstances, and as he too, m his way, was fascinatmg 
he had no doubts as to his success 

Mirabeau's fascmation consisted largely in his 
mteUigence, his warm heart, and his wonderful voice 
His tawny-coloured eyes mflamed those with whom 
he conversed, his powers of persuasion were immense 
and his enthusiasm irresistible Fmally, there were 
his exquisite hands with their eloquent and convmcmg 
gestures, the only parts of his person which were 
absolutely and delightfully pleasmg She whom 
Mirabeau was soon to call his Sophie was conscious of 
these seductive forces from the very first moment 
that she saw the Count How could this creature, 
who had never yet belonged to anyone, help faUmg an 
easy victim to Mirabeau’s passionate influence ? 
Her need of afiection, her sensitiveness, her sweetness, 
her absolute imselfishness, conspued with Mirabeau’s 
ardour, his sensuality, his imagmation and his fire, 
to precipitate the moment when these two young 
people, athust for love, threw themselves mto each 
other’s arms ’ 

To this husband without a wife, to this so 
of affection, to this prisoner without a f u 

205 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


penniless Count who in order to gam a livelihood 
was reduced to wnting books against the nobihty to 
whose ranks he belonged the Marquise de Moniuer 
seemed to be love happmess the compensation for 
all which he had suffered the supreme desire She 
seemed too, the ideal beauty among all the women 
whom he met he could discover nothmg which could 
bear comparison with Sophie s charms 

But still more than mere beauty Mirabeau appre- 
mated m hia beloved conquest the qualities which he 
lacked himself and which she possessed in the highest 
degree her unvarymg sweetness and umfonn good 
humour in face of his own uneven temper, her 
complete self-abnegation beside his ejcactmg imperious 
self will Sophie joyfully sacrificed herself to the 
strong ebullieut dommatmg personality of her 
lover Monsieur Barthou m his admirable work on 
5Crabeau has nghtly stressed the fact that Sophie 
de Monmer and Mirabeau were attracted to and loved 
each other by reason of their contrast and that the 
young Marquise was of all women the one best suited 
to the fiery descendant of a violent restless and 
passionate race Tfie difference between the two 
lovers was as great physically as it was morally Wc 
are already aware that Mlrabcan s face seamed with 
scars colourless and plam, was in marked contrast to 
Madame de Monmer s fresh beauty This face so 
painful to look at, was surmounted by an enormous 
head which Mirabeau earned erect on broad hea\'j 
shoulders thus prwentmg a massive and powerful 
appearance almost disquieting by the side of the 
Marquise s beauty Mirabeau 5 bush of hair his 
tawny eves big nose and tiny mouth made a strange 
306 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

contrast to Sophie's charms. Only the young Count’s 
perfect row of even, sound teeth recalled one of Madame 
de Monmer’s attractions. 

Mirabeau was wittih^ amusmg on the subject of his 
ugliness. He called himself " an athlete in love, 
whose passionate imagination is sulphuric ” His 
violence equalled his warmth and he very quickly came 
to blows. But when he wished to be seductive nothing 
could withstand him Peasants, women, even the 
gaolers, succumbed to his power He could be 
sparklmg, overuFelming, tender, caressmg, captiva- 
tmg, and soothing His beautiful voice, so flexible 
and eager, could borrow every tone In him extremes 
seemed to meet He was the most natural of men, 
touchmg m his sincenty, and yet at the same time 
an expert actor and an audacious liar. He was, in 
short, " a magnificent exaggeration ”, and m order 
to perfect this exaggeration Mirabeau vaunted his 
passions, paraded them, yielded to them and made 
others yield also 

No one submitted with a better grace or more 
pleasure than Sophie de Monnier The adonng 
mistress of all Mirabeau’s charactenstics, she became 
his grateful slave after the 13th of December, 1774, 
the first mght of their intimacy Mirabeau knew 
her well when he said ” My character is unequal, 
my susceptibility is prodigious, ^y vivacity excessive , 
it was essential that I should meet a woman as sweet 
and mdulgent as Sophie ” 

Unfortunately, Pontarlier talked about the fnend- 
ship of the Marquise for the Count as often as they 
had discussed her relations with Monsieur de Mont- 
perreux Soon the hatson of the two lovers s 

> 

207 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

secret to no one except to her husband Monsieur 
de St Mauns had peaceably accepted his repulse 
at the hands of the President s beautiful wife when he 
knew that no one else had won her heart but as soon 
as he heard of his prisoner's success he flew mfo a 
violent rage He repented the favours which he had 
shown him and made up his mind to stop thenu Was 
he gomg to allow the kindness which he had lavished 
on Mirabeau to serve no other purpose than that of 
rendering him ndicnlous in the eyes of the woman 
whom he had wooed and of the man who but for his 
indulgence would never have succeeded in becoming 
the lady’s lover ? These reflections aggravated his 
wrath and spite and the Governor of Joux determined 
to avenge himself on the audaaous Mirabeau by 
subj ecting him to the ordinary prison treatment 
Mirabeau s gift of mtuition however caused hun 
to divine Monsieur de St Manns' state of mbd as soon 
as he had reason for believing that the Governor of 
Joux knew the truth Deeming it more prudent to 
flee the prison than to e^)ose himself to the danger 
of having to make his escape by ruse or force Mira 
beau decided not to re-enter the fortress For more 
than a week until the i6th of February, 1775 he 
succeeded in hiding in Pontarher But on that parti 
cular day he discovered that the pursuers were on bis 
track and so resolved on another bold stroke not 
unmixed with comedy He related the most ridiculous 
tale that c\’er diverted a vaudeville audience to Sophie s 

husband and on the strength of this stoiy the credulous 

Marquis allowed his wufe to go to Dijon where da'clt 
Monsieur and Madame do Ruilcy Thus Mirabeau 
succeeded in getting his mistress out of Pontorlicr 
aoS 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


This was the essential for the moment. He himself 
repaired to Dijon almost as soon as the Marqmse, and 
on the very evenmg of his arrival he had the tementy 
to accompany his beloved to a brilliant ball given by 
Monsieur de Montherot, Provost-marshal of Burgundy. 

This tementy was carrying mdiscretion too far for 
it to pass unnoticed On the night of the ball itself 
Monsieur de Montherot warned Louis XVI’s Minister of 
Mirabeau’s presence m Dijon. A few days later the 
Provost-marshal received an order to have Mirabeau 
confined m the Chiteau of Dijon, allowmg him, 
however, a measure of hberty But Monsieur de 
Montherot was saved the trouble of puttmg this order 
mto execution, for Mirabeau, scenting danger, fled 
during the night of the 24th-25th of March, 1775, to 
Switzerland and mstalled himself at Vemeres Despite 
her ardent desire, Sophie had not been able to follow 
him and now that her whole intrigue was disclosed, she 
was faced with the menace of imprisonment in La 
SalpHnere. Elated by her love, fevensh from fear of 
bemg for ever separated from Mirabeau and shut up for 
the rest of her life m a penitentiary, she told herself 
that she had no choice between flight and death by 
her own hand. She tried to flee, but her family guarded 
her so effectuall}'' that her attempts miscamed and 
only ended in entanglmg her lover who was so hard 
pressed by his pursuers that he had to seek refuge in 
Savoy. Here, Mirabeau consoled himself for the 
absence of his mistress by seducing one of his cousins. 
Mademoiselle de la Tour Beaulieu, although she was 
engaged to be married. With him the need for sen- 
sations was so imperious and his sensual apjietites so 
luordmate that he was unable to control himselL-^ 

209 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

despite his sincere and passionate love for J&dame 
de Moimier 

The Marquise on the other hand, behaved so weD 
that she ended by potting her relations on the wrong 
scent and making them believe that she was m a fan- 
way to forget Mirabeau Thus she lulled then vigilance 
to sleep and succeeded m escapmg from Dijon and 
joining Mirabeau on August the a4th at Vemfires to 
which place he had returned on August the 13th 

The joy of the two lovers on meeting agam was as 
exuberant and mtense as their passion 'My 
Gabnel reiterated Sophie ' ^twas thee or death ", 
and he earned away by the violence of his emotions 
believed he had never for one minute ceased to thmk 
of Sophie since he had first known her 

But the happmess of the jpan was precarious m 
Switzerland, because it was easy to obtain on extradl 
tion order Mirabeau ejplained this to his lady and 
as his wish was law on the 15th of September they 
both left Vemires, to repair to Holland Here they 
installed themselves at Amsterdam and in sprtc of thar 
small means their home was a nest of love and 
happiness In order to earn his daily bread Mirabeau 
appbed for -work from the publishers and Sophie a 
host in herself undertook the housework revised hi5 
proofs gave Italian lessons and did all the sewing 

My adorable compamon so wrote Mirabeau " was 
never so merry so courageous so attentive so equable 
and so tender as when \vc were poor She embellished 
my life Their love for each other made them 
forget that they could not satisfy their hunger nor 
dress as they used A kiss given or rccci>*ed was their 
great pleasure and at that time both wished uith all 
aio 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

their hearts that this secluded life of love might last 
for ever. 

But at Pontarlier, the Marquis de Monnier had set 
everj^thing in motion to avenge his wrongs He had 
brought an action against the fugitives and on the loth 
of May, 1777, the public prosecutor of the baiUage 
de PoniarUcr gave the following judgment ; For con- 
tempt of court the couple were condemned (i) in the 
case of i\Iirabeau, commeted of rape and abduction, 
to pay a fine of five thousand Imcs, fortj^ thousand 
Hvres damages with costs and to lose his head. (2) 
Sophie, convicted of adulterj^ to be confined for the 
term of her natural life m the pemtentiarj^ at Besan9on, 
where she was to be shaved and branded like the other 
inmates. 

But at Amsterdam Mirabeau, in order to safeguard 
lus libertj^ and that of his mistress, had taken every 
step to be made a " town citizen ” He hoped that 
this title would render them both invulnerable to any 
outside influence It did nothing of the sort Mirabeau 
was made " citizen of Amsterdam ” on the 14th of 
May, 1777, but Monsieur de Monmer obtained an 
extradition order against the guilty pair at the begin- 
ning of the following June From this moment 
the situation of the two lovers became desperate. 
While neither of them would face their threatened 
misfortune and both clung to hope with the convulsive 
fever of the lost, Monsieur de Ruffey, Sophie's father 
learned, with growls of savage joy, that the couple 
could be arrested 

It was in the midst of the most intimate domestic 
happiness m their little home that the pohee sought 
them The separation was heart-rending Clasped 

211 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

m the closest embrace the two lovers refused to be 
parted When Sophie was tom from Mirabeau s 
arms his emotion was so mtense that it brought on a 
violent hEcmorrhage The young woman staggered 
beneath the weight of her despair Both of them 
wept each strove to beheve in the future, but to what 
could they look forward except prison or the cloister ? 

Sophie whose expectations of motherhood were 
obvious could not for this reason he taken to the 
ref o rm atory at Be3an9on as the judgment of Pontariier 
had deaded- She was interned under the name 
of Madame de Courvitro m a house of correction in the 
Rue de Charemne at Pans 

As to iCrabeau on the 8th of June 1777 he was 
locked up In the dungeon of Vincennes It was from 
thiB State prison that to Monsieor Ic Noir, 

the chief constable, and Hs head-clerk, be was able 
to correspond with Sophie Both were to recapture 
in this exchange of letters something of the delicious 
sensations and disturbing emotions of their days of 
happiness hfirabeaus letters to Sophie are an odd 
mixture of sincenty and rhetonc. They overflow 
with love a love burning mad and intoxicating but 
are mixed with philosophy politic* and ethics In 
these letters we have a complete picture of Mirabeau s 
greatness and littleness his violent temperament, his 
bursts of passion his sensuahty and his gcncroslt) 
too One can understand how the deep devoted love 
of the unhappy recluse m the Rue de Ckaronne would 
be sustained comforted and stimulated bj such 
letters 

On the 7th of January 1778 she gave birth to a pri 
who was registered under the name of Sophie GabncIIe 

3X3 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


daughter of Mane-Ther^e, Sophie de Rufiey, wife of 
Messire Claude,, Frangois, Marquis de Monmer. Thus 
this love-child had not the right to bear the name of 
its real father and its mother was not allowed to keep 
it. At the end of the first months it was taken from 
her and Madame de Monmer was transferred from 
Pans to the Convent of Sainte-Claire at Gien. 

At Gien Sophie contmued to hve in the rapturous 
memory of her love It was for this that she hved and 
it was from this that she still expected happmess 
In the solitude of the convent she so worked upon her 
own heart and senses that she loved Mirabeau even 
more than she had loved him at Amsterdam She 
wrote of it to him, and she also wrote, so that she might 
talk of him and of her passion, to a new fnend whose 
acquaintance Mirabeau had made and to whom he 
had begun to make love at Vincennes where she was 
visiting her lover, one of his fellow prisoners. Mirabeau 
presently informed Madame de Monmer that this 
woman, Juhe Danvers by name, was her nval " I 
have found another soul worthy of your own ”, he 
wrote to Sophie, " and henceforward your sex for me 
will comprise two mdividuals ” 

In spite of this declaration the Marqmse was not m 
the least jealous She loved Mirabeau too well to think 
that she had anythmg to fear from him " Celibacy 
will kill you 1 ” she wrote “ I allow, I wish, I com- 
mand you to have everything exceptmg that which 
can steal your heart ”, and when Mirabeau came out 
of Vmcennes she wrote to Mademoiselle Danvers 
” Get him to come to you, stop him from workmg, 
keep him for me so that he may hve for the o . 
people worthy of him ” Warm-hearted and m 

213 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

m tlift closest embrace the two lovers refosed to be 
parted When Sophie was tom from Mirabeau s 
anna his emotion was so mtense that it brought on a 
violent hsmonhage The young woman staggered 
beneath the weight of her despair Both of them 
wept each strove to believe in the future but to what 
could they look forward except prison or the cloister ? 

Sophie whose expectations of motherhood were 
obvious could not for this reason be taken to the 
reformatory at Besan^on as the judgment of Pontariier 
had deaded. She was interned under the name 
of Madame de Courvifere in a house of correction in the 
Rue de Charonne at Pans 

As to Muabeau on the 8th of June 1777 he was 
locked up in the dungeon of Vincennes It was from 
this State prison that, thanks to Monsieur le Noir 
the chief constable and his head-clerk he was able 
to correspond with Sophie Both were to recapture 
m this exchange of letters something of the deliaous 
sensations and disturbing emotaons of their days of 
happiness Ifirabeau s letters to Sophie are an odd 
mixture of smceiity and rhetoric. They o>’erflow 
with love a love burning mad and intoadcating but 
are mixed with philosophy politics and ethics la 
these letters we have a complete picture of Mirabeau s 
greatness and littleness his violent temperament his 
bursts of passion his sensuahty and his generosity, 
too One can understand how the deep dc\’oted Io%‘e 
of the unhappy reduse in the Rut it Charonne would 
be sustained comforted and stimulated by such 
letters 

On the 7th of January 1778 she ga\c birth to a gtri 
who was registered under the name of Sophie Gabriebe 

aia 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


daughter of Mane-Ther6se, Sophie de Ruhey, wife of 
Messire Claude,, Fran 90 is, Marquis de Moimier Thus 
this love-child had not the nght to bear the name of 
its real father and its mother was not allowed to keep 
it. At the end of the first months it was taken from 
her and Madame de Monnier was transferred from 
Pans to the Convent of Sainte-Claire at Gien. 

At Gien Sophie contmued to hve m the rapturous 
memory of her love It was for this that she hved and 
it was from this that she still expected happmess 
In the sohtude of the convent she so worked upon her 
own heart and senses that she loved Mirabeau even 
more than she had loved hun at Amsterdam, She 
wrote of it to him, and she also wrote, so that she might 
talk of him and of her passion, to a new fnend whose 
acquamtance Mirabeau had made and to whom he 
had begun to make love at Vmcennes where she was 
visitmg her lover, one of his fellow pnsoners Mirabeau 
presently informed Madame de Monmer that this 
woman, Juhe Danvers by name, was her nval. “ I 
have found another soul worthy of your own ", he 
wrote to Sophie, " and henceforward your sex for me 
will comprise two individuals 

In spite of this declaration the Marqmse was not in 
the least jealous She loved Mirabeau too well to think 
that she had anythmg to fear from him “ Cehbacy 
will kill you 1 ’’ she wrote " I allow, I wish, I com- 
mand you to have everything exceptmg that which 
can steal your heart ”, and when Mirabeau came out 
of Vmcennes she wrote to Mademoiselle Danvers . 

“ Get him to come to you, stop him from worlong, ' 
keep him for me so that he may live for the two 
people worthy of him.” Warm-hearted and meeimous 

213 



A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 

notwithstanding her passionate love the Marquise 
had as yet no snspiaon that m Miraheau s afiections 
there was nothing which resembled her own self 
abnegation At this time all her desires hopes, and 
emotions were concentrated on her lover's promise to 
come and see her secretly at the convent of Gien as 
soon as he came ont of Vincennes Sophie prepared 
for this visit with tenderness fear and gratituda^ 
The maid Victoire who waited on her was informed 
of the great event because Madame de Monmer could 
dq)end on her and because the mistress needed the 
servant s assistance to carry out her scheme successfully 
Indeed, it was the servant who ventured to take the 
key of the garden gate from the abbess for the purpose 
of having a dupheate made which would enable them 
to open the gate to the beloved when he came. It 
was Victoire also who bought the felt slippers for the 
lover to wear m the convent in order to deaden the 
sound of his footsteps it was she again, who got in 
provisions when the longed for tune amved 

On the rsth of Febmaiy 1781 Madame de Monmer 
wrote to Mirabean Everything is ready for J'oil 
O h how I look forward to seeing 1 ‘ Mirabean 
came at last on the 29th of May Sophie was mad 
with dehght and tremblmg with joy Her Im-tr 
managed to give her the impression that he shared her 
transports Yet all the time he was contemplating a 
rupture and had been counting on this sojourn at the 
convent to prepare her whom bo had loved so much 
and whose passion was more ardent than e\*cr for 
the break- But consummate actor that he was he 
played the lo\ cr os successfully as ever For dap 
he remained at the convent, hiding m the large artnoire 
ai4 



s 


A MISTRESS OF MIRABEAU 


whenever a noise, an office or a custom of the convent 
made him fear the advent of some individual from 
whom he must conceal himself. Sophie knew once 
more the joy of hope. She hoped that Mirabeau would 
often come again to see her and for a much longer time 
But tins visit was the only one which he paid to Gien 
Mademoiselle Danvers took him away from Sophie 
de Monnier She whom he called his “ onty soul ”, 
while he described the Marqmse as his “ other half ”, 
was the only one who inflamed him at this particular 
time Then, too, he had enjoyed many a fleeting fancy 
as soon as he came out of Vincennes before going to 
Gien Madame de Voillemain, Madame de Bussey- 
Dagoneau are but two of the most famous heroines of 
his fickle whim In a word, the Comte de Mirabeau 
and the Marqmse de Monmer were no longer in harmony, 
and Uilirabeau was impatient to regain his liberty 
It was on the 7th of September, 1789, that Sophie de 
Monmer realized this and it was on the 9th of September 
that this great lover chose to die rather than to survive 
the love which she had placed so high. She took 
poison And on her death-bed she who had suffered 
so much for her lover had not even the consolation 
of knowing that he loved her still and that he would 
mourn her as she would have loved to be mourned. 


215 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 


Of the nine children borne to Louis XV by Marie 
Lecxinska seven ■were danghters and only two were 
sons This lack of proportion is exactly what might 
have been expected at a Court \^ere women from 
the very beginmng of the reign occupied a position of 
importance due to the influence of such channing ladies 
as the Comtesse de Toulonse and Mademodselle de 
Chaxolais * After 1741 until the death of Louis XV 
women always preponderated They were the pnme 
movers in the most important as well as m the most 
tnvial events Neither was this feaninme power 
confined to the recognized favourites but was shared 
by a large number of other women There was 
Madame d Estrades capable of the strangest conspir 
ades Madame de Mirepoix feverish in her efforts to 
make the Kmg pay her enormous card debts Madame 
de Marsan the temblc and bitter champion of the 
Jesuits Madame do Tencm whose boundless ambition 
to direct the State made her stop at nothing These 
are only a few of the women who contended for influence 
and power under the go\cmment of this King who 
never knew how to rule. What is more natural than 
to see such a King surrounded by girls rather than 
boys ? 

After the birth on the 14th of August 1727 of the 
first two princesses who were twins Lomsc-Elizabcth, 

* Sw the ciuipter 00 Tknt LsdUs 

316 



THE DAUGHTERS 01*' LOUIS XV 

the eldest, and Madame Henriotto, (here wiiiui 
presentiment that there would 1)0 m.'uiy In 

the Royal family. 

This foreboding was not long in bcconiin;; u in.'tllly, 
for m the year 1737, tlie Queen already ><*/'/,’>< d fieven 
daughters, the youngest of whom, Mmjc-l/>in'.e, y/.'n, 
bom m the July of that same year,' 



THF DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

‘ King Papa BnLl-oras was mcapaWe of thwarting 
any of them to their faces (Of this characteristic 
Mercy d'Argenteau was one day to write to the Empress 
Maria Theresa ‘ His Majesty Is a man who would 
rather tolerate offences in his children than TnaVp the 
slightest remonstrance at the time if he hq ? anything 
on Ins mind he writes it ') The King yielded to 
Madame Troxnime and so in Fleurys despite only 
four of Louis daughters repaired to Fontevraolt 
These were Mane-Lomse-Thdrtee-Victoire, aged five 
PhlUppe-Ehsabeth Justme-Sophie, aged four , Marie- 
Th^rdse-Fflidtd, aged two and Lomse-Marie aged one 
year The Princesses left Versalllea m June 1738 
just about the time when Louis began to mahe public his 
Ua%son with Madame de Madly So resigned was 
the to this separation from his daughters that he 
did not return to Versailles from RambouIIlet, where be 
was staying with the Comtesse de Tonlouse to bid 
them goodbye- During the twelve years that the 
Princesses spent at Fontevraolt neither Louis XV nor 
Marie Lecnnska ever paid them a smgle visit They 
did not even go when in September 1744 Marie- 
Th^ntee-Ffliati died there at the age oi eight, a victim 
of Imprudence 

It was not that the King and Queen did not love their 
children Louis showed a great deal of affection for all 
the Prmcesses as long as they were with him But 
directly they were far away their memory faded from 
his mind and heart, and, insensibly he allowed himself 
to be dominated by passion and sensuality As to 
the Queen, her numerous confinements, which occurred 
at such short intervals, had so aged and weakened 
her that she had only preserved cnougli energy to saw 
3X8 



plate XV 




the daughters of LOUIS XV 

the King’s soul. She was a passive and apatl.cUc 

"princesses, who departed from Ihc Court ,n 
eight coaches and two chaises with twenty wagon- 
loads of luggage, arnved at Fontcvrault after a journey 
lastmg thirteen days. The Abbess, who was a Roche 
chouart-Mortemart took the trouble to receive them 
clad all m white and accompanied by lour qinlc 
girls. She desired that on their arrival the Royal child- 
should be greeted by attractive faces, and colours 


which would please them. 

Notwithstandmg this attention on the part of the 
Abbess, the Pnneesses’ Me at Fontcvrault was neither 
pleasant nor mstructive. The nuns lacked the experi- 
ence and probably also the knowledge which were 
necessary for the education of the Daughters of France. 
On several occasions the punishments which were 
mflicted reacted most deletenously on their health. 

It would, however, be an exaggeration to believe 
what has been asserted by Madame Victoirc, to wit, 
that the terrors and convulsions to which she and her 
sisters were subject had their ongin m the long stations 
which the nuns forced them to make in the mortuary 
vaults of the Abbey. These stations cannot have been 
either so long or so frequent as Madame Victoirc 
thought The intense fears which shook Marie- 
Leezmska as a young Queen are a better explanation 
of these fits and terrors than Madame Victoire’s state- 
ments But none the less the fact remains that the 
Princesses were sent down mto these mortuary vaults, 
since they had knowledge of their existence, and that 
such gloomy places could not but have a depressing and 
dangerous effect on youthful imaginations. It ,s also 

219 



THE DAUGHTERS OE LOUIS XV 

a fact that when Mesdames re tur ned to the G)urt ot 
France they were so ignorant that they could scarcely 
read or write Only mosic and dancing bad been well 
taught at Fontevrault 

The daughter of Loma XY who stands out boldly from 
among the others was brought up at the Court of 
Versailles Though merely the princess of a small 
prmapahty she was an exceptional figure m her 
epoch She was keen, ambitious and enterprising 
untiring in her energies and passionately fond of her 
own people at a time when in the second half of the 
eighteenth century, it was rare to meet with anything 
among Idngs, princes and the great but selflshnessj 
eSeminacy and a complete lack of mterest In pohtlcs. 
This eldest daughter of the Kmg did not for a single 
mstant despair of changing Europe to the advantage 
of her House, of imbuing everyone with a love for 
Franca and of makmg her son a prince worthy of his 
great French forefathers 

Louise-EUsabeth showed her gifts from the very 
beginning of her marriage with the I n fan te, Ron 
Philip, the third son of PhUip V King of Spam and of 
his second wife, Elizabeth Famese Their marriage 
took place in France by proxy on the a6th of August 
1739 and was far from satisfying everybody The 
barrister Barbier wrote in his diary ‘ It seems 
extraordinary that the eldest Daughter of France is not 
marrying a crowned head ’ D Argenson expressed 
the opinion that this union was only agreed to because 
the idea was to make Don Philip King of the two 
Sldlles The Prmcess herself considered her destiny 
to be less glorious than she bad the right to expect 
This little person, already very conscious of the 
S30 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

magnitude of her double title of Frenchwoman and 
Daughter of France, thought that the title of > queen 
would ha!ve suited her much better than that of wife 
of a pnnce without lands. This is what her large dark 
eyes, pent beneath thick eyebrows, said, and even 
her pouting mouth, which contracted into a scornful 
grimace when Don Phihp’s position was first discussed 
in her presence and when she was asked if she would 
not feel pleased to be called Infanta. 

Notwithstanding those intensely expressive dark 
eyes, Louise-Ehsabeth was not so pretty as her twm, 
the Prmcesse Hennette. Her nose was too short and 
too broad , her face rather too plump, her forehead 
too high and her complexion, which was too dark 
to be dazzlmg, was often blotchy. Occasionally her 
expression was dull and mdolent, but usually she was 
vivacious and decided. It was said that the Princess 
knew how to exact obedience and to get her own way. 
In short, if Lomse-Ehsabeth was not actually lovely, 
she was, on the whole, an ongmal, pleasing, piquante 
and mteUigent personality. 

If Loms XV had seen, unmoved, the departure of 
his four young daughters to Fontevrault in June, 1738, 
it was not without sorrow that he bade farewell in 
September, 1739, to his eldest daughter, aged twelve, 
when she left to ]oumey to a foreign Court there to 
meet a pnnce, her husband, who was only a younger 
son The King who entered the coach which bore his 
daughter away accompanied her for several miles 
and durmg the drive was unable to hide either his 
gnef or his fears. 

The Prmcess on her arrival at Madrid made a very- 
good impression on her father-m-law, Kmg Phihp V, 

221 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

a fact that when Mesdames retnmed to the Court ol 
France they were so ignorant that they could scarcely 
read or write Only music and dancing had been well 
taught at Fontevrault 

The daughter of Lnuis XV who stands out boldly from 
among the others was brought up at the Court of 
Versailles Though merely the pimcess of a small 
prmapality she was an exceptional figure in her 
epoch She was keen» ambitious and enterprisiiig, 
untiring m her energies and passionately fond of her 
own people at a time when, in the second half of the 
eighteenth century, it was rare to meet with anything 
among kings prices and the great but selfishness) 
effeminacy and a complete lack of interest in poUtics. 
This eldest daughter of the King did not for a single 
instant despair of changing Europe to the advantage 
of her House, of imbuing everyone with a love for 
France and of Tnnlnng her son a prince ^vo^thy of bis 
great French forefathers 

Lonise-EUsabeth showed her gifts from the very 
beginning of her marriage with the Infante, Don 
Philip, the third son of Philip V, King of Spain, and of 
his second wife Elizabeth Famese Their marriage 
took place m France by proxy on the 26th of August 
1739 and was far from satisfying everybody The 
barrister, Barbier wrote in his diary ‘ It see®* 
extraordinary that the eldest Daughter of France Is not 
marrymg a crowned head-' D Argenson expressed 
the opinion that this union was only agreed to because 
the idea was to make Don Philip King of the two 
Sicilies The Princess herself considered her desUn) 
to be less glorious than she had the right to expect 
This little person, already very consaous of the 
220 








it VTSS i1j_ > — 3'p S'Ll^ L' \' jni 'z^A- ^ w£iV ' ■L _ fn 

when she lert j- r- — ;.= n- ^ C''ir: — 

meet a prince, ner nnscsnrL, “v^ 'ecL~ a. "ni'mrrer 

son The King wno emecren "me 'ccat'^L 'v ^'n^r — i- 

daughter away accemcjaden ner 1— — ~^ 

and during the oiire -as nnaie nc' 2r.5e 
gnef or his fears 

The Prmcess on her arrival at Tlanrii -r?'- ^ 
good impression on her father-in-law^ Kin- F'"— 


221 




THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

and only a moderate one on Queen EUmbetb Pamese, 
her mother-in law* who m any case was incapable oi 
showing kmdly feeling to a daughter m-law no matter 
what she might be, while the Infante Don Phihp her 
husband, gemnnely liked her The marriage solemn 
ised in France on August 26th was ratified by a 
magnificent ceremony on the 25th October, id 
the ancient church of Alcarade Henaresand the young 
Princess was soon the idol of Madrid 
The fif5t discordant note m the chorus of praise and 
general demonstration of afiection which reached the 
Infanta, came from her mother jn law EUabeth 
Famese having realised that she would most certainly 
never succeed in ruhng her daughter m-law as she had 
been accustomed to role her son conceived, after six 
months of peace, a furious anger and a violent enmity 
against the Princess Her hostility was further 
intensified by the fact that France liad neither humed 
to assist Spain against England nor to pay th® 
Infanta's dowry 

Louise-Ehsabeth remained as much of a French 
woman at Madrid as she had been at Versailles It 
was to the Court of Versailles that she looked for support, 
su^estions and guidance. She wrote to the Dauphin 
an account of all the important events at the Court 
of Madnd and carried on a regular correspondence with 
her twin who was her favourite sister As H> 
observes she wanted from her exile to create a 
influence for herself at Versailles * And she succeeded 
too for, in 1740 that is to say, only a few months ufter 
her marriage she had already g^ed for her cause 

I DemPkilipfnd*Simtlxm ri 

it Fntnc* 


723 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

ardent and influential relations and friends who, 
whether at Versailles or at Madnd, had promised to 
obtain for the young couple an establishment worthy 
of the birth of both In the first rank of these adherents 

was the affectionate and devoted Madame Hennette 
who, despite her sickliness and habitual apathy, could 
rouse herself to strike a blow when her darlmg sister's 
interest was at stake. At such times her noble, pale 
face would acquire a little colour and this gentle girl, 
who was at everybody’s service, would never have 
forgiven anyone who had tried to prevent her from 
mterfering in the interests of her eldest sister Madame 
Adelaide, too, although still very young, wanted to 
work for the Infanta, and so did the Dauphme 
Raphaelle, Louis’ son’s first wife. The Noaflles and the 
Maurepas plotted with the Queen on behalf of Louise- 
Elisabeth, while the French Ambassador at Madrid, 
Monseigneur Vaurdal, Archbishop of Rheims, was so 
zealous m the Pnncess’s cause as to be the subject 
for laughter and lampoons D’Argenson wrote of him 
m 1749 “ R is accepted as a fact that this prelate 

wanted to whisper sweet nothmgs to Madame (the 
Infanta).” 

The Infanta knew very well that she would become 
^ power through her allies Ehzabeth Famese, her 
niother-in-law, was well aware of it too So, pricked 
i'y ^nibition, the one for her son, the other for her 
husband, these two women, who continued to have 
^ antipathy for each other, became genumely recon- 
and joined forces with the object of gainmg a 
or a position of authonty for Don Phihp 
Prince on whose account all these negotiations, 
and diplomatic moves were being made had 
223 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS X\^ 


nothing of his mother's arrogant, fiery, crafty disposi- 
tion, nor anything of his wife s tenacity or ambihon 
He was a tall slim youth with a long delicate face 
thin lips and a broad high forehead who despite his 
pleasant eipression had at first sight looked rather 
a nmcompoop to his young wife But soon Lomse- 
Elisabeth discovered that notwithstanding his round 
duU 65^65 his lack of vivaaty and his want of pro- 
nounced personahty Don Philip could be good and 
kind, qmetly dignified and above all afiectionate, 
in the way she liked From that moment she felt 
strongly attracted to and became genuinely fond 
of him Nevertheless she always treated him as a boy 
much younger than herself although he was her senior 
by eight years The husband and wife were not to 
enjoy their first mtima«^ for long During the last 
days of 1741 the Infante was obliged to leave his spouse 
to take over the command of the Franco-Sparush 
armies against Sardinia, just at the time too when 
she had made him the father of a daughter (the 3itt 
of December 1741) The friends of Don Philip and 
he himself hoped that through this war he would succeed 
m securing for himself the possession of one of the 
duchies of Northern Italy Elizabeth Famese saw in 
it m addition a means to prevent the Infanta from 
gaining too much infl uence over her husband This 
jealous mother could not resign herself to occup\’ing 
second place in her son s heart At all costs Louise 
Elisabeth must not be allowed to supplant her in his 
affections The best Nvay to defend her so^alled 
maternal rights appeared to lie in the separation of 
husband and wife That is the reason whj for eight 
y’ears EUrabeth Famese neglected no intrigue, artlDce 
234 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 


rme or measure to prevent the young people from 
meetmg and to keep Don Philip m camp. At this time 
the mother had already formed the habit of writmg 
to her son m cipher The dommant note of anxiety 
runnmg through this correspondence, ^ which was to 
continue until the death of Louise-Ehsabeth, was 
based on the Prmce’s feelmgs towards his wife “ I 
want to know if you love . : (the sign which 
Elizabeth Famese used to denote her daughter-m-law 
when wntmg to her son) Tell me the truth ! ” 
the Queen of Spam implored One feels that she 
always hoped for a reply m the negative, which 
however never came, for de Luynes, wntmg with 
full knowledge of the subject on the 3rd of April, 
1749, observes : " Although the Prmce at twenty- 
eight is as much of a child as he was at fourteen or 
fifteen, he has, nevertheless, an affectionate regard 
for the Infanta ” 

But Don Phihp fought bravely with his armies, 
sometimes even with a fire which was charactenstic 
of a Frenchman His successes, however, were mixed 
with reverses Thus it was that his tnumphal entry 
mto Turm (the 19th of December, 1745) was lessened 
by the defeat which he sustamed at Placentia on the 
19th of June, 1746 In spite of everything, the Peace 
was to be entirely in his favour ; for, from the moment 
when he began to fight against Austria, the Prmcess, 
his wife, turned to advantage the diplomatic gifts 
with which she was endowed 

Her knowledge of affairs and politics was mcreased 
by her daily contact with so able and crafty a politician 

^ A few files of these letters were discovered by Charles Nisard 
in 1877 in an old cardboard box in the archives at Parma The 
remainder appear to have been lost 

225 


16 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

correspondence which, the Queen Dowager earned on 
against her with her son and of which the yonng 
Princess was totally unaware The Prince did no 
more than sufier this correspondence, but it made him 
very unhappy, for he had neather the courage to refuse 
it nor to disclose it to his wife In order to rid herself 
entirely of this detested mother in law, Louise- 
Elisabeth insisted on a substantial mcome But who 
was going to pay it ? If it was to bo furnished by 
Spam alone the Infante and Infanta would once 
again fall under the heavy yoke of that country 
The only means of avoiding this misfortune was to 
induce Jlonis XV to contribute to the allowance 
granted to Don Philip The Infanta left Madnd 
firmly convinced that she would succeed in gaming 
her ends 

ShearrrvedatVersainesonthesistofDecember 1748 
Great was her family's joy on seemg her again especially 
that of the KingandMadameHennette and the Dauphin 
Loms met her at ViUeroy the Dauphm and Madame 
Henrietta went as far as Choisy in order to meet her all 
the sooner Mane Leezinska more apathetic awaited 
her at Versailles Louise-Elisabcth arrived with her 
camerara mayor the Marqmse de Lcyde (according to 
d Argenson the wickedest creature that ever was *) 
a secretary of state the Due de MonteiUano as major 
domo-in-chief ( ' a mean despicable slovenly follow 
remarks the same d Argenson) and three malds-of 
honour But there was nothing rich or luxurious 
about this suite. The Princess herself possessed onI> 
what was Indispensable At Versailles it was claimed 
that she returned to France with the same clothes 
that she had taken a\ray with her more than nine 

2S8 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS X-V 


years earlier ' This lack of pomp and elegance did 
not appear to worry the Infanta at all, at least not 
for the moment All she wanted was to succeed in 
her mission So she scarcely ever left her father, who, 
several tunes during the day, and even at night, repaired 
to the Infanta's apartments by a httle pnvate staircase 
to talk busmess and to enjoy the pleasure of seeing her 
again The friendship between the Kmg and his 
daughter was so complete as to cause Madame de 
Pompadour offence The favourite asked herself 
anxiously if the power which she desired to keep at 
all costs might not pa^s into the hands of this Princess 
who assimilated ideas and diverse projects so easily, 
whose strength of mind astomshed all who came m 
contact with her, and who was practical, clever, qmck 
and healthy Lomse-Ehsabeth did not desire this 
power, but she succeeded in obtaming under seal 
of the greatest secrecy a grant of two hundred thousand 
francs for the Duke of Parma Thus the object of 
- her journey was magnificently attamed. It has even 
been said that when she left Versailles on the i8th of 
October, 1749, after several times postponmg her 
departure for a great many weeks, the Infanta took 
back with her a new trousseau and ever so many gowns 
D’Argenson who, it is true, did not like her, claimed 
that her journey had cost the State twelve hundred 
thousand hvres 

Louise-Ehsabeth’s departure caused intense sorrow 
at the Court It made Madame Hennette ill and the 
Dauphin fauly howled with gnef Loms was gloomy 
for several days and Mane Leczmska shed a few tears 
But the Pnncess continued on her way to Parma, 
where she amved m December Her husband 

229 


THE DAUGHTERS OF LOXHS XV 

welcomed her m a perfect transport oi happmeis 
while the people greeted her with acclamation and held 
the most joyoos and enthusiastic demonstrations m 
her honom: Louise-Ehsabeth was accompamed by 
a group of French people whose affection she had been 
able to gain ut Vei^aaUes and who were going to help 
and support her m the work of spreading throughout 
the pnnapahty that love and admiration of France 
sshich possessed her souL 

Don Phlhp was only provisionally installed at Panna 
for before leaving the duchy, Don Carlos his eldest 
brother had removed evoythlng he could froiil the 
palace and borne it off to Naples— ‘furniture hangings 
decorations and even the grand staircase of marble 
had been tom from their ongmal setting to embellish 
the residential palace of Don Carlos For this reason 
a great deal of money had to be spent to make the 
palace at Parma habitable And even so, this palace 
stiU lacked rhnTm for it was surrounded by walls and 
had neither gardens nor park> The Infanta deter 
mined to alter the whole arrangement and plan She 
did not mind what she spent in order to introduce 
something of the luxury and art which she lo\‘ed at 
Versailles And hardly were these alterations begun 
than she organized innumerable bnlhant flUs at tlie 
ducal palace. Six times a week there was opera 
the Court arranged picturesque and dchghtful tnps to 
Colonna the ducal residence m lower Parma and to the 
Palace of Piacenra, tho most fasanatlng of Don 
Phihps homes The Pnnccss also wished to Iiai-e 
troops notwithstanding that her husbands prind 
pahty was under the protection of France and Spain 
and soon the presence of one hundred and fill) 

030 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

carbineers and a regiment of cmrassiers enhanced the 
prestige of Don Philip's throne. Unfortunately such 
expenses imposed a burden on the pnncipahty’s 
budget winch it was unable to support To meet all 
these obligations the Infanta had no more than the 
four hundred thousand hvres furnished by Spain, four 
hundred thousand Uvies derived from a pnory and 
thirty thousand hvres which he got from his estate 
m the Spanish La Manche With such a meagre 
income it was impossible to contmue so grandiose a 
life From Spain Elizabeth Famese, m her secret 
correspondence, encouraged Don Phihp's resistance 
to his ivife's scliemes, both with regard to her plans for 
fetes and her desire to make French influence pre- 
dominant at Parma It is true that on her side the 
daughter-in-law was resolute in resisting the ardent 
ivish of Ehzabeth Famese to come and install herself 
in the prmcipahty Lomse-Elisabeth ’ knew very 
well that if the Queen-Dowager were to come and 
hve with her son, her strong ivill and her craftmess 
would very qmckly get the better of anythmg 
that she herself might display of energy and 
authority She would thus speedily gam first place 
at Parma and this the Infanta would not have at 
any pnee 

She consented therefore to change her style of hvmg 
at Court Soon, Don P hili p and his wife were obhged 
to dine tete-a-t^te and to give up all their bnlhant 
files The Infante, m any case, hardly suffered from 
the change He loved hunting the deer without 
ceremony, and playing French music to hunself as 
soon as it was dayhght 

The Infanta, no longer able to organize bnlhant 

231 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

entertamments took up her political work a^n with 
fresh zest and \ngonr The Duke never negotiated any 
business without consulting her and the Princess nc\‘cr 
made a deasJon without first drawing inspiration from 
France Nearly all the high dignltones came from 
France and French was the common language -of the 
palace even in the case of Don Phflip 

But this French influence, which the Infanta sought 
b> every means to extend and mtensifj exated the 
jealously of the Itahans The peninsula began to fonn 
on Itahan party and within the principality natma 
and Spaniards alike unceasingly and furiously opposed 
everything FrenciL Race antagonism was carried 
to such a pitch that it was possible for people to believe 
rightly or wrongly that France s Chief Minister at 
Parma had been poisoned by iladame de Leydc (1750) 
This woman reproached him not onl> for being a 
Frenchman but also for having denounced to the 
Infante and Infanta her shameless plundering of the 
duchy Crossol Maulcvncrs successor went mad 
(1754) mad for love of the Infanta claims 
D A^ensom 

In the interval bct^^•ccn these two deaths the Infanta 
experienced on the 20th of Jannaj> 1751 what was 
perhaps the greatest happiness of her life when she 
ga\'c birth to a son Ferdinand Phillppe-Iaiuls Tlds 
Princess who was the most excellent of mothers bad 
pa 5 sionatd> desired a son although she was dcs*otcd 
to her daughter from whom she had ne\*CT wonted to 
be separated c\*cn dunng her busj mission to France 
At the end of this same >*car (1731) in the month of 
Nox'cmber the Infanta gaw blrtli to her third and 
last duld the Pnneess Louise-Mane'Th'frdse 
232 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 


But hardly had a few months gone by than Lomse- 
Ehsabeth forfeited to fate part of her maternal joys 
through a domestic sorrow. At Versailles, Henriette, 
her well-loved twin, had suddenly fallen hopelessly ill 
It was m February, 1752 , on an intensely cold day, 
vuth a stinging rvind, the King came to ask lus daughter 
Henriette to accompany him on a sledge-nde. The 
Princess was tired that day ; but the King’s invitation 
was too pleasant and too flattering for Hennette to 
dream of not complying. So she departed in the 
sleigh ^vlth his Majesty ; she had barely been half-an- 
hour m the open air when she was already shivenng 
from head to foot, notwithstanding her furs On her 
return to the Court the delicate Princess, always pale 
at the best of times, was hvid, and two days later (the 
loth of February) the death agony began. She died 
on the following day, while the Royal Family, over- 
whelmed, remained m a state of stupefaction over 
the rapidity of the illness. Thus Hennette passed 
away at the age of twenty-four, leaving behind 
her nothing but regrets and aSection. Loving 
and intensely loyal to those for whom she had an 
affection, musical and artistic, gentle and melancholy, 
even a little lymphatic, she had never made a.ny 
enemies 

On her death the Kmg ordered all spectacles and 
amusements to be stopped, although Carnival was 
at its height It was also his wish that the young 
Princess’s funeral should be marked by the highest 
honours The violence of his paternal gnef foimd 
a solace in the tokens of affection and honour given to 
the dear remains It was deaded that the Princess’s 
heart should be conveyed to the Abbey of Val-de-Grace 

233 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

there to be preserved -while her body -was to rest by the 
side of her ancestors in the vaults of Saint Denis 
The funeral procession started from the Tudenesand 
on the long road which separated the Tuflenes from 
the Cathedral, Louis desired that the manifestations 
of gnef and sympathy should be multiphed So the 
remains of the regretted Prmcess had to be removed 
from Versailles to the Tiuleries The King could not 
bring h i ms elf to allow them to be treated as a corpse. 
The deceased was clothed in one of her Ioi*eliest 
dresses seated in a coadi to give her the appearance 
of being alive and conveyed to Paris at a gallop 
At Saint Denis a magnificent catafalque in white 
pink and sea-green was erected surrounded by exotic 
blooms But the fttneral was not what the King had 
antiapated. Instead of the tears and testimonies of 
affection for which he had wished indecent scenes 
took place. The people drank laughed and amused 
themselves -while the Court gneved. Roj’alt) had 
lost too much of its prestige and of its right to the 
nation s recognition to expect its subjects to associate 
themselves m the mass with its sorrows and exhibition 
of sadness 

At Parma the Infanta Ii\cd through all the hours 
of anguish which the illness and death of Madame 
Hcnrictte inflicted on her farail) E%cr since the 
fatal moment she had had but one desire to go with 
Don Phihp to Versailles there to mingle her tears with 
those of the King the Queen the Daupldn and the 
Princesses But it pro\Td so diGicuU for the Duke 
to Icas'C the principalitj that in the end the Dudini 
bad to depart alone (August 175-) 

Tliisioumc) like the pres-ious one wa 5 al^alo'e^^e 
354 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

the interests of her House The Pnncess took with 
her to Versailles the Due de Noailles, who was whole- 
heartedly devoted to the interests of the Infanta and her 
husband, and who was thoroughly acquainted with the 
financial stress of their circumstances Thanks to lus 
skill in managing all parties and of ingratiating himself 
with them without, however, mtnguing (whatever 
else may have been said of him), Louise-Elisabeth was 
able to interest Loms XV and his minister m the report 
which he \vrote on the situation existing in the duchy 
of Parma This report pointed out , among other things , 
that the situation in Don Phihp’s states was “ of 
the gloomiest, and insupportable ” The Duke was 
despatched with a special letter of introduction to the 
Due du Duras, the French Ambassador at Madrid, 
who informed the King of Spam, Ferdinand VI, that 
France was ready to share the expenses of the Duchy 
of Parma with Spam, if the latter would guarantee 
her nghts of tutelage and protectorate equal to her 
own The negotiations, opened m January, 1753, 
dragged on Spam did not \vish to give up any of her 
prerogatives , but, from Versailles, the Infanta set 
her Spamsh friends to work, while she on her part 
zealously supported her cause at the French Court 
Her energy and intelligence aided France m carrying the 
day in August, 1753 Henceforward, the role 
(important no doubt but, nevertheless, naturally 
covert), which France had played at Parma ever smee 
Don Phihp had been established m the duchy, was 
transformed into a recognized, legal right One can 
understand the President Hinault singmg with a certam 
amount of enthusiasm, the praises of a pnncess who 
was able to contnbute her share towards such a success 

235 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

Her lively wit mal^s all things gay 
And with a word ahe charms away 
Oar hearts into her hands 
What bids us love thin lady say ? 
rris Reason 3 self cominands * 

Thanks to the Franco-Spamsh negotiations of 1753 
the Infante and Infanta of Paima had now an annual 
rovenno of two hundred and twenty five thousand 
francs paid by the Powers tvro milhons in taxes and 
a further guarantee of supplementary assistance by 
France Not until these arrangements were definitely 
settled did Louise-Elisaboth with a heart full of sorrow 
leave France (October 1753) to return once more to 
Parma 

The first act of the Roybal pair after the Duchess s 
return was to select the Frenchman DutiUot to adnun 
ister the pnnapality The appointment of this 
enthusiastic supporter of Louis^-Elisabeth s policy 
to the post of Quef iCmster marked France s moral 
conquest of Parma. Henceforward the Princess 
sure of being aided and understood by Don Philip s 
minister was able to devote herself with all the strength 
of her passionate and persevering nature to the 
realization of the three projects which lay so near to 
her heart 

These projects were firstly to free the gov'cmment 
of Parma from Spanish tutelage next, to give to the 
young Prmco her son m whom all her political 
ambitions were centred as excellent an education as 
possible Louise-Elisabeth was equally anxious to 
secure to the Pnnee the succession to the duchy of 

« Sen fipril utiS Mti m^mtr 
Un mot M mfii ponr ciarmrr 

On rsimtt 

Qni mens la fmtt mtmtr? 

Lm raitem tmimu f ** 

236 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 


Parma and its dependencies She even strove to 
obtam for him, with France’s support, an important 
European throne Lastly, the Pnncess was already 
thinking of her daughters’ futures, for she wished them 
to make brilliant matches 

It was to achieve these three great aims that, in 
August, 1757, the Infanta set out once more for 
Versailles. She knew from the experience of her former 
visits that her presence at her father’s Court was the 
most effective means of obtainmg from him what she 
wanted But, even from Parma, the Princess had 
taken her part m the political pre-occupations of the 
French Court and was full}'’ acquamted with its deci- 
sions Babiole’s negotiations and the Treaty of Versa- 
illes on the 1st of May, 1756, which upset France’s 
alhances by makmg an ally of that very same Austna 
which had been her enemy m the previous war, and an 
adversary of the very same Prussia which had fought on 
her side down to 1748, were, perhaps, due as much or 
even more to Louise-Elisabeth’s mfluence than to that 
of Madame de Pompadour Indeed, Louise-Elisabeth 
looked to Austna for her children’s fortune, while she 
feared Spam Consequently, nothmg was as advan- 
tageous to herself as a Franco-Austnan Alliance. 

The possibility of formmg a kmgdom for Don Philip 
out of the Netherlands had been under consideration 
at Versailles smce 1756 This scheme entailed the 
abandonment of the defence of Spanish interests m 
Flanders But Loms 'XV and his mmisters thought 
that it would be more profitable to set up a vassal 
state with a friend at its head, than to support a nation 
m which they had but limited confidence In addition, 
the Kmg was endeavounng to place “ m a stronger 

^37 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

and more smtable position , as Bends has wntten 
that particular Botirboii who after his own direct 
male issue was dearest to hirn , 

At the same time, this Ftanco-Austnan alliance made 
Don Philip completely secure on his present throne, 
foTitwasnot 'byforce as had been the case m 1748 
that Anstria ceded Parma, bnt of her own free will to 
satisfy France her ally and friend* Henceforth 
Ferdinand VI could die without the Infante fearing that 
the lQng*3 death would kindle ' a conflagration m 
the peninsula. Thus the policy which gratified the 
favounte* was much the most advantageous to the 
Rouse of Parma. It was from this community of 
mterests and schemes that was bom the rspprocke^ 
meni between the Infanta and Madame de Pompadonr 
which by some has been wntten down against the 
Princess as a real crime 

It IS certainly painful to see a daughter making 
herself the intimate of her father s mistress. But in 
her political fervour the Infanta purposely forgot La 
Pompadours relations with the King in order that 
she might remember nothing but her power in the 
government In making common canse with her 
Louise Elisabeth multiplied her House s chances of 
success had she held aloof she would only have 
spoiled her own cause So husband and wife cultivated 
a friendship with the powerful Marquise and both 
exchanged exceedingly cordial letters with her The 
question of the Austrian alliance was not the onl> one 
which brought the King 5 daughter and the fawuntc 
together Both of them took an interest m Cbolseul 
and both thrust him into the foreground It was the 

* S«* the clupter on Mmdamt is P«mps4oirf 

. 238 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

Infanta who asked that he might be made Ambassador 
at Vienna, and Madame de Pompadour also tried to 
get him the appomtment. For the rest, the Duchess’s 
patronage of Choiseul occasioned many an outburst 
of temper on the part of Bemis, who vied with Choiseul 
to be first m the Prmcess’s favour. 

Louise-Ehsabeth arrived at Versailles on the 3rd of 
September, 1757 Two days later she was writing the 
first of that long series of letters m which she gives 
Don Phihp at once an account of all her acts, negotia- 
tions, hopes and successes, as of all the intentions 
and actions of Louis’ Government. The questions 
which most persistently recur m this volummous 
and varied correspondence are four or five m number. 
First, that of the kmgdom of the Netherlands, which 
Austria was willmg to cede to Don Philip on condition 
that she herself might take the whole of Silesia from 
Prussia Next, the Prmcess repeatedly returns to the 
difficulties m connection with govemmg the duchy 
and gives her husband much and varied advice She 
also often speaks of the joy it will be to be released 
'from the tutelage of Spain “ We shall not be happy 
until we get nd of them ! This sentiment is more human 
than Christian I am not sufficiently good to resist 
it ! ” (November 7th, 1757) Lastly, we see her ever 
pre-occupied with the disastrous events of that dis- 
tressmg Seven Years’ War. But she was determmed 
to nse superior to the bad news, to show good temper 
or resignation m order to comfort Don Philip “ For 
the present we must submit and try to make the best 
of it, and for the future, however remote, yet for the 
sake of our children, we must go on toilmg . 
(March 17th, 1758). 


239 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

Another time she wroto ' It seems to me dangerous 
to show that one despairs of everything ’ 

Nevertheless this fine attitude was unsuccessful 
m averting the fate of the House of Parma. It suffered 
the most disastrous How bv the accession to power of 
that same ChoiseuI who as Ambassador (December 
1758) had been the Infantas prot«ig6. The new 
Minister with the object of stopping France s defeats 
wanted to form an alliance with Spam But the latter 
seemed in no wise desfroos of uniting with France 
So m order to induce her ChoiseuI bade Don Carlos 
the eldest sou of the Queen Dowager to have no more 
anxiety with regard to the Treaty of 1748, by which 
Don Philip received the two Sicilies m the event of 
Don Carios mountmg the throne of Spain. Whatever 
happened Don Carlos sou should keep the Hogdom 
of the two Sicilies to the prejudice of Don Phihp In 
making these propositions Choisenl was already laying 
the first foundation of an entente between all the 
Bourbons which was one day to end in the Family 
Compact. For the moment Spam would not allow 
herself to be won over but ChoiseuI s offers thrived 
and it was they which inspired the friendly treaty 
signed between Spain and Austria on the 3rd of October 
1739 By this treaty the kingdom of Naples was 
given to Don Carlos second son and all Don Philip s 
nghts to this kmgdom were ignored 
In spite of these negotiations the Infanta who was 
worried by the thought of her ton surrounded b> 
vulgar and mean people at Parma had preserved 
suffiaent mdependcnce of mind to ^oose to the great 
anger of the Jesuits the philosopher Condillac as 
hii tutor 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

But the news of Austna’s treaty with Spain and the 
knowledge of its clauses were a terrible blow to the 
Duchess, Tins tremendous disappointment upset her 
whole organism, overtaxed by the intense and incessant 
work of several years. She became suddenly over- 
whelmed by fatigue, and weary and incapacited. 
This Pnncess, who for months had hardly slept from 
want of repose, whose brain was so full that many a 
time she felt it would burst, was ready to fall a victim 
to the first malady which might attack her This 
malady was small-pox, which had raged almost per- 
manently at Versailles ever smce the Grand Monarch 
had had the soil turned up for the purpose of laying 
pipes to bring the waters of Marly to the palace 

It was towards the middle of November, 1759, that 
the Princess began to complain of her health On the 
igthof November, she wrote to her husband * ", 

If my head is as bad to-morrow, it won't be my fault 
if I am not bled ; but you need not worry, it is nothmg 
at all Adieu, my Heart, I love you, as you know, 
and embrace you in proportion." 

The next day the Infanta was much worse and she 
was never again to wnte to Don Philip or anyone else 
She died at Versailles on the 6th of December, mourned 
by her family even more bitterly than Madame 
Henriette 

A woman of sense and devotion, a Prmcess endowed 
with a rare energy, with a sound judgment and a 
practical mmd, Louise-Elisabeth of Parma never 
shirked any fatigue or work which could serve the cause 
of her relations She has been reproached for bemg 
ambitious, but her ambition was for those whom she 
loved and never for her own gratification. On her 

241 


16 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

death-bed she left a letter for her tiny son which is a 
land of moral testament Reading it one is consanus 
of the supreme effort made by the mother who before 
leaving the world wished to impregnate the heart 
of her child with her own great love I am a French- 
woman, my son I>ove France nty son she 

is the source of your origin, thus you owe her of 
yourself respect and deference. The strength 

of your afiection for France will be the measure of 
your greatness if you become great of yourself, with 
her you will be greater etill 

The work of Louise-EUsabeth survived her and 
added to her fame after her death Panna ivas the 
rendavom of celebrated artists Bodonl Venim 
de Rossi Mcdlot Payol the archEcologlst Caylos 
and Paoandi pirc the antiquary An Academy of 
Fine-Arts was founded there as well as a magnificent 
library The son whom she had loved so deariy ruled 
over the duchy till his death which occurred in 1802 
and her daughters made the grand marriages which 
Louise-Elisabeth had wished The eldest mamed 
m October 1760 the Archduke Joseph who became 
Emperor The Empress Maria Theresa her mother 
in-Iaw called her the Incomparable Archduchess 
Lomse-Mane-Th^rfee the youngest child of the Infanta 
and Don Philip married in 1765 the Prince of the 
Astunas the future King of Spam Unfortunatcl) 
the life of this princess was not reminiscent of her 
mother s behaviour her name was sadl> a'aociated 
with that of de Godoy 

There now remained onlyfourofLoiUs XV sdaughters 
at the Court These were Madame Adelaide Madame 
VJctoiro (Mane Louise Thir^sc) Madame Sophie 
242 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

(Philippe-Elisabeth- Justine), and Madame Louise- 
Mane. 

Madame Victoire had returned to Versailles on the 
2'4th of March, 1748. Profoundly bored wth her life 
at Fontevrault, she determined, with the confidence 
of her fifteen years, to write to “ King-Papa ” to 
entreat him to let her return home. Louis had 
hesitated for a little while ; but at the end of a fortnight 
he appomted three maids-of-honour to attend Madame 
. Victoire and despatched the Duchesse de Duras to 
Fontevrault to fetch her back He himself, accom- 
pamed by the Dauphin, went as far as Sceaux to meet 
her. The King was delighted to see Madame Victoire 
So, too, was the Queen when she saw her several hours 
later Madame Quaincme was extremely prett)'’ ; 
her beautiful, tender, soft brown eyes, fresh complexion, 
‘tvaive air and a bright smile gave the impression of 
happmess and health, which, together with her desire 
to please, radiated from her whole personality. Grace- 
ful m her movements, lively m her conversation, which 
only lacked finesse and wit, voluptuous m her expres- 
sion, Madame Victoire was charmmg, and though she 
nught have been accused of being a little too fat, as 
she was rather tall, this unfortunate tendency was 
scarcely noticeable. 

The young Princess showed complete self-assurance, 
entnely free from any timidity, in her attitude towards 
the Kmg and Queen, especially towards the Kmg. 
Indeed, Loms XV's daughters were always more at 
ease with their father than with then mother ; the 
Queen never heard of then little worries or their griefs 
exceptmg through the Kmg 

In November, 1750, Madame Sophie and Madame 

243 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

Loiiise jomed their sisters at the Court None of them 
had anything which recalled Madame Victoire 5 beauty 
Ma d ame Sophie tall certainly, possessed no other 
physical gift , her month was a straight line her chm 
long and her expression vacuous and furtive Vulgar 
in appearance with awkward manners she was 
unwholesomely shy and timorous When a storm 
burst her fnght amounted to terror She who was 
naturally haughty became at such times familiar with 
and affable to everybody She would have given to 
those about her all that she possessed in the hope of 
appeasing the divme wrath Madame Campan 
wntes “ I have never met an 3 maie who looked fo 
scared she walked at an extremely rapid pace, and in 
making her acknowledgments to those who made way 
for her, m order to avoid looking at them she adopted 
the habit of glancing sidevrays like a hare Tins 
Pnncess was so excessively shy that one could meet her 
every day for years without bearing her utter a single 
word She was neither intelligent nor amusing 
Madame Ixiuise had no beauty either but while her 
sister Sophie was tall and retiring Madame Louise 
was small lively mtelligent talkative in fact too 
voluble on subjects in which she was deeply interested 
With a mind both disceming and practical she would 
ha\'e been caustic, mordant and scornful if the nuns 
of Fontevrault and Madame dc Soulangcs m particular, 
who was especially attached to her person had not 
laboured hard to subdue her pride and modify her 
qualities Am I not the daughter of your King ? 
exclaimed the haughty little Pnncess to one of her 
women who was not sufficiently humble to please 
her — And I Madame am I not the daughter of your 

344 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 


God ? ” bravely replied the waiting-woman, under 
Madame de Soulanges’s inspiration. 

Another day Madame Louise tried to make the ladies 
of Fontevrault comply with the custom of the Court 
which required everyone to rise when a member of the 
Royal Family drank, "Stand, ladies”, cned the little 
girl, " Lomse dunks ! ” — " Remain seated ”, quietly 
rejomed Madame de Soulanges. 

Notwithstanding these exhibitions of her masterful 
will, Madame Lomse was feeble and puny. She was 
the sad flower of wmter, of a love that was dead before 
the child’s birth One of the Queen's friends, the 
Due de Luynes, observes ; " Madame Louise's head was 
a little too big for her body ” The curvature of the 
spine, which later^ the Prmcess called her " hump ”, 
was by no means 'the result of a so-called accident at 
Fontevrault, but due to her weak constitution 

The education of the two Princesses had been so 
neglected at the Abbey that when they returned to the 
Court they hardly knew how to read or write. 

Madame Adelaide dommated the four sisters by the 
force of her will, by an unusually vivid imagmation, 
by the activity of her combative mmd, and by her need 
to command which caused the Due de Croy et de 
Martange to remark " Madame Adelaide had a 
small head into which no large idea entered, and 
yet it was this small head and not her heart, which 
ruled everything around her ” Her physique also 
contributed to form her onginal and strong personality 
She had " just missed being a boy ”, with her mascuhne 
manners and bass voice For a year or two, but 
not longer, she shone with a striking and disturbing 
beauty of the Bourbon type characterized by 

245 


a rare 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

elegance At tlus penod she resembled Heinains 
portrait 'wiuch depicts her with large dark eyes at 
once passionate and soft There was something 
uncanny about her some alight mental derangement 
but her expression remained languid and sweet 
- This portrait is very different from the one which 
Madame LabiUe-Guiard pamted of her in 1787 that 
istosaywhenMadame Adelaide was fifty five. On this 
canvas Madame Troxsiime has preserved nothing of her 
ephemeral beauty She is as the Comtesso de Boigne 
has said Big withered with her pleated violet- 
coloured dress her butterfly-shaped cap and two large 
teeth the only ones she bad left At this 

period she was truly ugly Her complexion was 
blotchy her nose red her nature crabbed and more 
impenous each day her violent fits of rage exceedingly 
frequent All her life Madame Adelaide was com 
pletely lacking in balance She would pass abruptly 
from gaiety to sadness or anger and indulged m the 
most weird fancies At the age of eleven aided by 
a little void she tned to enter the Array in order to loll 
Englishmen She was familiar with the story of 
Judith and Holofcmes and proposed to imitate the 
courageous Jewess s action. Another time some 
years later she fell in love with a handsome llfc- 
guardsman while watching birp perform his military 
duties As impulsive as she %vas ardent Madame 
Adelaide sent a costly snuff box to the object of her 
passion as soon as she was sure of her heart s 
transports On the hd of the present she wTotc in 
her own hand You will treasure this soon j’ou 
shall be informed from whose hand it comes The 
young man acquainted his captain the Due d Ayen 
246 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

with the incident in order to ask his advice as to the 
course he should pursue. The Due d’Ayen related the 
adventure to Louis XV, who adored anecdotes and 
gossip. After he had heard the story the lUng asked 
to see the snuff-box No sooner was it in his hands than 
he recognized his daughter Adelaide's handwntmg on 
the hd. Louis immediately hastened to grant an 
annual pension of four thousand loms to the handsome 
hf e-guardsman, but under the express condition that 
he should “ at once remove to some place far from 
the Court and remain there for a very long time 
Notwithstandmg'her eccentnaties and bold conduct, 
it would be unjust and cmmnal to pay the slightest 
attention to the calummous charges of incest which 
it has been sought to bnng against Madame Adelaide 
and two of her sisters, Mesdames Hennette and 
Victoire There is not the smallest foundation of 
truth m these accusations 

The Pnneesses’ estabhshments were divided mto 
two ; one for the elder and one for the younger ones 
In spite of this simplification d’Argenson complamed 
at one time that the expenditure for Mesdames 
amounted to seven miUion francs. This was because 
very early the daughters of Loms XV were allowed to 
take part in all the fetes and to orgamze all the enter- 
tainments which their imagination could suggest 
Those of them who never went to Fontevrault appeared 
for the first time at the Opera with their father in 
January, 1744 In the adjoimng box were Madame 
de Chateauroux^ and one of her sisters Madame 
Hennette and Madame Adelaide hunted with the 
King five days a week from the beginmng of 1746 

^ See the chapter on the Duchesse de Ch&teauroux. 

247 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUTS XV 


The masquerades the bails, the evening ffttes of all 
kmds mcreased in expense and luxury in the apparie 
tnenis of Mesdames and the Dauphin even before the 
Infantas mamage 

When the Princesses tastes changed when the all 
powerful influence of the Dauphin urged them towards 
less blatant pleasures such as panting and music, 
Mesdames continued to spend more than was necessary 
by reason of their great love of good living They ate 
at all hours of the day and k^t a quantity of eatables 
m their apparimeni These consisted of a great 
variety of Bologna sausages ragoAts sweetmeats of 
every sort and the generous wines of Spain ^Vithout 
a doubt Madame Vlctouros great love for all these 
excellent things contributed to develop her efnbon 
point to an extreme degree and to spoil her beauty 
Madame Sophie s predflection for these comestibles is 
not unfamiliar m the mcknome of GratlU (scrap) 
which her father gave her Those of Loque (Dud) 
and Chiffe (Eog) with which ho afflicted Madame 
Adelaide and Madame Louise respectively are less 
comprehensible. 

Intheir second as in their first style of living Mesdames 
were entirdy free to follow their tastes and capnccs 
^rithout the King or anj*onc at the Court exercising 
any constramt or supervision over their bchaMOur 
or deosions At this particular period they refused 
to receive or to speak to anyone who did not belong 
to their little set and Louis W nev’er bothered about 
thar pecubanties Uniting themselves \nth tbc 
Queen and the Dauphin they supported the elergv • 
resistance to the acts of the ministers encouraged the 
refusal of the sacrament to those Cathohes who dW not 
248 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV, 


accept the bull Uni Gemtiis and endeavoured to get 
Parhament’s decrees quashed by the Court. 

In July, 1761, Madame Adelaide accompanied 
Madame Victoire to Lorraine to take the waters, for 
the excesses of the table had senously impaired the 
health of Loms XV’s prettiest daughter The two 
Prmcesses were absent for four months It was 
during this visit of their elder sisters that Madame 
Sophie and Madame Lomse went to Pans for the 
first time These changes were but the prelude to the 
new importance which Mesdames were about to have 
at their father’s Court Indeed, Loms at this time 
not only did not cntiase his daughters’ behaviour, 
but he even relied upon their opinion and advice in 
makmg his deasions Madame Adelaide especially 
inspired him with confidence and gave him a sense of 
security by her firm and rapid resolutions The Kang 
gave her the famous appartement of the Comtesse de 
Toulouse^ which enabled the Prmcess to hold com- 
mumcation with her father by day and night. Madame 
Adelaide, proud of her growing favour, treated her 
three sisters more than ever as ventable inferiors, 
whose sole duty was to obey her suggestions ' But she 
herself, dommated by the Archbishop of Pans, 
Chnstophe de Beaumont and his entourage, whispered 
mto the King^s ear nothmg but that prelate’s desires 
Thus it may well have been the Archbishop who 
mspued Madame Adelaide to make attempts to get 
Loms to marry the young widow of the Pnnce de 
Laraballe But, on Madame Dubarry’s at the 

Court (1764), the Pnncess’s role came to an end until 
the Kmg’s last illness Madame Adelaide, in spite of 

^ See the chapter on Three Ladies at Supper. 

249 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

her grand aus her fits of temper and violent passions 
was obliged to give up her apparUmtni to the 
favourite, and her dissatisfaction hod no political 
consequences 

What were Madame Louise s feelings at juncture 
she "svlio perhaps, of all the four sisters was the most 
mtelhgent ? She had always found it extremely 
painful to be dominated Madame Adelaide , but 
to bo at the same time a apher at the Court forced to 
submit to her elder sister must have been absolutely 
insupportable, Madame Louise was incapable of 
becoming resigned to the soft, innocent and easy life 
of Madame Victoire. Of a fiery and passionate dis 
position she was to be seen a short time after her 
return to the Court fevcruhly indulging in ^'lolent 
e.xerdse. Now that the passage of >ean and dis 
appointment and bitteme^ bad saddened hex the 
Princess thought a great deal became overstrained 
and arrived at the Idea that it was only by with 
drawing from the world that she would obtain the two 
things on which she had set her heart the Kings 
conversion and the triumph of the Jesuits, who had 
been expelled by Choiseuls request on the 26th of 
November 1764, Madame Louise was so convinced 
of the Jesuits good claim and of the benefit they bad 
been to France that she was read> to do anything to 
serve thdr cause. If she had been Loms W 5 eldest 
daughter and beautiful it is possible that she would 
never have thought of the cloister and it seems an 
exaggeration to say By the side of her three sur 
viving sisters the Carmelite stood out os a heroine. * 
But being what she was omumstances prc\ ented her 

* Striniky it Fmi«» FUUt ig LevU XI 

250 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS, XV 


from playing a role at the Court, where, moreover, 
her physique procured for her nothing but mortification ‘ 
and vexations, so she was ready to make any sacrifice 
to attain her ends 

The Princess, after ha^ung mourned, \vith her sisters, 
the death of the Dauphin (December the 20th, 1765), 
and that of the Queen (June the 24th, 1768) begged 
Monsieur de Beaumont to speak to the King of her 
vocation and of her desire to enter the Carmel of Saint- 
Dems The King thought the matter over before 
giving his answer, and, on the 16th of February, 1770, 
announced that he would not oppose his daughter’s 
\vish It was in the month of April that Madame 
" Derniere ” left the Court, accompanied m her coach 
by only one maid-of-honour and an equerry. In Holy 
Week the whole Royal Family paid her a visit at Saint- 
Denis On the loth of September, 1770, at a gorgeous 
ceremony over which the Papal Nuncio presided and 
which was enhanced by the presence of the King, the 
Pnnces and the Pnncesses, Madame Lomse, magni- 
ficently attired in white satin and decked out in more 
than a milhon's worth of diamonds, exchanged her 
title of Daughter of France for that of Sister Th^r^se 
of Saint-Augustme She desired that her cell should 
be even more bare than that of the other Carmehtes 

The act of renunciation which the youngest daughter 
of Loms XV had just accomphshed at the age of thirty- 
three, made a new personage of her Sister Thdrese of 
Saint-Augustme was now much greater than her sisters 
She had become the first Carmehte of the Chnstian 
world to whom the Kmg, the Princes, Mesdames de 
France, the numsters, the ambassadors, the bishops and 
- the archbishops came to seek hght and counsel 

251 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

Her influence asserted itself immediately m the 
question of the Dauphin s mama^ which had taken 
place on the i6th of May 1770 Sister Th6r^ of 
Saint-Au^tine in common with Lotus other danghfen 
had strongly disapproved of her nephews marriage 
with an Austrian, Moreover this marriage had been 
concluded by Choiseul the enemy of the Jesuits and 
consequently of Mesdamos It needed nothing more 
to make the young Dauphine antipathetic to her 
aunts however chamdng she might be , for Mesdomes 
were jealous of the Archduchess Mane-Antomette at 
first sight and of the mflaeoce whidi she would be able 
to exert over the King and the Dauphtm The> made 
a femt of receiving her well but neglected no oppor 
tuTuty of domg her an injury In this unfair and dark 
struggle Sister Th^rfise of Samt-Augustine was so batter 
and so persistent that Mane*Antoinette could not 
forbear exclaimmg She is mdeed the most scheming 
httle Carmelite in Fiance! The Princesses lament 
able bdiaviour towards the 5roang Dauphme made th em 
very unpopular and only her habit saved Sister Thiirdsc 
from being included in this unpopularity 

The heroic hour of Louis XV s three daughters struck 
when the King fell ill As soon as Jfesdames Adelaide 
Victoire and Sophie learned that their father 
attacked by small pox and that the serv’ants trembled 
at the idea of catching the disease they ran to the 
sick room they shut theniscl\’C 3 m with him in spite of 
the horrible odour which ho emitted even going so for 
03 to sit beneath the canopy of his bed in order to be 

closertohim and foigot their health and their needs as 

long as the King 8 illness lasted. The> bad but one 
thought namely to save their father body and souL 

353 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

And yet Madame du Deffand and the Due de Lian- 
court chose to see in this conduct something other than 
disinterested sentiments 

At the Carmel of Saint-Denis Sister Th6rese of Saint- 
Augustme joined her supplications to God to those of 
her sisters and shared in thought their anxiety 
Mesdames did not succeed in snatching their father 
from death , hut Sister Thdrese’s great \Msh was 
granted During the night of the yth-Sth of May, 
Louis demanded his Confessor, the Abbe Maudouse, 
and became reconciled to God He died on the loth 
at three o’clock in the morning (1774) Fifty persons 
who had done no more than pass along the comdors 
at Versailles contracted the same illness as the 
Kmg, and grave fears were entertained for the 
hves of his daughters, all three of whom took to 
their beds. 

But, even before she was restored to health, Madame 
Adelaide had begun to intrigue and meddle in pohtics 
. again. It was owing to her influence that at the 
begmmng of his reign Loms XVI’s Government had 
the worst of Ministers, the frivolous, flattering and 
mcompetent Comte de Maurepas Despite his seventy- 
three years Madame Adelaide caused him to be elected 
m preference to the incorruptible Machault, whom 
Madame Victoire supported and the diplomat Choiseul, 
the young Queen’s protdgd 

For some tune Loms XVI continued to consult his 
Aunt Adelaide over everything, so great was his 
confidence in her intelhgence He admitted her to the 
Council and even allowed her to make appointments 
to the Treasury and to draw on its funds But 
indignant protests against the lady’s foolish behaviour 

253 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

were raised on all sides She crorwned her dangerous 
follies by trying to provoke a lupture between the 
Royal pair Sister Th« 5 rfise of Samt-Augustme the 
King 8 brothers the Hhics d'Orlfans de Richeheu 
d Aigmllon the Duchesse do Noaflles and Madam^ 
de Marsan supported her m this abominable attempt 
The King fortunately at last became aware of Madame 
Adelaide s mad acts and cnminal injustices and after 
severe reproaches he ordered her to retire with her 
sisters to the QiAteau de Bellevue. 

But at Bellevue Madame Adelaide contmoed to 
intngue with her friends against the Queen. Louis X\T 
mten,"ened a second time but it was not until ho had 
fonnally forbidden Sister Thirfee of Saint Augustine 
to meddle m political affairs that relative peace was 
established. After the birth of a Dauphin (October 
1781) Mesdames returned to the Court but ascertain 
mg that henceforward they would never regain the 
nght to meddie in the affairs of the kingdom 
or those of the Royal pair they deaded to con- 
centrate their efforts and thar attentions on them 
estates 

Mesdames we re wealthy at that time although 
Loms W had not troubled to make p^o^'lsion for them 
m his will anj more than be bad bothered to find 
them husbands But the four sisters had inherited 
monej from their mother in 1768 In 1775 thc> 
bought Bellexme and Bnmbonon on the embellish 
ment of ^hich all the artists of the daj were cinplo}*ed 
It was at Bellevue that Mesdames suraptuouslj enter 
tained a mixed soact} of prelates ladies and fnends 
who shared their Mews The following menu p^“e5 
some idea of the dinners at BeUesnie 
354 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XY 


MENU OF A GALA DINN ER SERVED AT BELLEVUE 


First Course 

Dormant = 

Four Hors-d'oemTc 

SOUPS • 

Thick Soup 
Onion Soup 

TWO JOINTS. 

Sirloin k la broche 
Haunch of Mutton 

THE REMOVE : 

Ducklings dc I’Hcrmitagc 
Timbales of Game k I'EspagnoIe. 
Pope's Ej^e of Mutton vutli 
Hancot Beans. 

Fillets of Pullet au Veloutd. 
Pheasants dressed with Butter 
and Truffles 

Pigeons k la Gautier and ^ la 
Fmanci^re. 

Salted Fowl. 

Skewered Leverets k la Bretonne. 
Quails en Cassolette with Rice. 
Ox-Tongue k I’dcarlate en 
Mironton 

Pur^e of Red-Legged Partridges 
k la Portugaise 

Quennelles of Pullet en Casse- 
role with Rice 

Woodcock k la Bourguignote. 
Pickled Chicken. 

Gnlled Mutton Cutlets. 

CoUops of Filleted Leveret 
Fried Chicken ITtalienne 


Second Course 

Hot Brioches. 
Gateau de Savoie. 


TWO entremets 

Menngue Tartlets. 
Cheese Fondus. 


EIGHT ROAST DISHES 

Red-Legged Partridges 
Chickens 
Shoveller Ducks 
Chicken de Caux mth 
Breadcrumbs 
Ortolans. 

Pigeons au\ ailcs dc 
Madame Victoire. 
Golden Plovers. 

Larks. 

Four Salads. 

TWELVE entremets 
Fatter s 

Cardoons k la moelle. 
Eggs in Veal Gravy 
Mixed Vegetables 
Tartlets 5. 1'Anglaise 
Stewed Artichokes 
Cauliflower. 

Coflee Cream 
Spmacb. 

Mironton of Potato 
Gateau Prmcesse 


^ Menu D’un Diner de Gala Scrvi A Bellevue 

Premier Service Detixi&me C „ 

Le Dormant La Brioche u 

4 Hors d’ceuvre d’ office La g&teau da '' 


255 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

To their estates Mesdames Adelaide and Sophie 
added the magnificent property of Louvois "which they 
bought together Louis XVI gave them the chAteau 
de Oiolsy, while they themselves bought the Hermitage, 

Such wealth, however, failed to enlarge the 
Prmcesses minds Madame Sophie died of dropsy 
on the 3rd of March 178a and her three surviving 
sisters took a pride in remaining unchangeable m their 
ideas and in their sentiments Louis XVI having 
by Royal edict in November, 1787 granted cml rights 
to the Protestants Sister Th^rAse of Saint Augustine 
addressed him a vehement letter of eight pages m which 


DruM pou^tt 

La garburt 

Lu oifucv i'Eapagu* 

L alayiau 4 la bfOfka, 

Ls iabi/ da moktcu 

Rdntx 

Im cantktns da rHtrmiiaga 
Las timbaUs da gOrirr i iaspagmeta 
La nvix da wtoaion ohm Haricots 
biancs 

Las fiUis da ponlarda an vtlouid 
Las faisandaaax au baarra si max 
traSss 

las pigaons i la Gantisr at A la 
finwtcUn 

La poula da Caux au grcs sH 
tasMptnaux an \aUlots d la bratomua 
Las usiUu an cassolctla au ris 
las langnu da betuf A PfcartaU am 
taironion. 

Las parirtaux rmigas an pytrSa A la 
portugaisa 

las kfiiLUs da poulards an cassarola 
mu ris 

las btcmsus A la beurguiguota 
las poulfts gras an nUrinada 
las cdielftUs is moulon grilUas 
las filfts is tamau an ascmJoppa 
las poulfts gras frits A rUalianna 


Drux UoUns 
Las tmrialaOas ntarimguhs 
Las fondus 


8 Plods do RdtiS 
Loo poriraasti nugtu 
las poulois pas 
las rougit mo titiirt 
La poult do Cmux pmsUt 
las ortolans 

las pigaons chx mlUt do 
hSaimmo Vidoirt 
las ptuxiort iords 
las rmausUttos 
4 smlmdts 


xa onirtmtU 
Las paiits boiguoU 
las cardos i Im moOlU 
Las ooufsaujnsdoatau Lm 
wymc/ioino 

las torfrltats A I anglslst/ 
las artickauJs A t/Janfado 
las tltaux fleurs 
La erlmo mn cmfi 
las Opinards 
la nnronton do pcmntf 
lagiumu princfxu 


• DecorttirB objects eukde of ngar etc. wUeh remsloed oo t^ 
tsble to the md ci the meel. SiiUIsx to the " tnbtletie* of the 
middle ages. C^rmnsUtor a note ) 

S56 




THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS X^' 


she alternately made violent attacks on tlie 
Protestants and bitterly reproached the Kin g. This 
was her last notorious exploit, for she died on the 23rd 
of the foUowmg December (1787). 

Madame Adelaide and Madame Victoire, although 
the latter possessed more sense than her elder sister, 
manifested every da}' a livelier horror of the philosophers, 
the encyclopsedists and the economists They were 
blmd to the intellectual movement and to the dis- 
content of the nation. Thus, when the States-General 
met at Versailles, on the 5th of Ma}’-, 1789, Madame 
Adelaide saw nothing in this event but an opportumty 
for a fine official display in which she would shine, 
as befitted her rank She was much more taken up 
with her spite agamst Marie-Antoinette than she was 
with pohtics For example, when the Queen spoke 
to her of the shockmg [indtgnes) French people, Madame 
Adelaide mahciously rephed : “I think you mean 
shocked ” {indignes), msmuatmg thereby that Mane- 
Antomette’s behaviour was bound to shock {ttidigner) 
the good French folk 

But the development of revolutionary events 
succeeded m rousing the two sisters from their tran- 
quilhty. In 1791 we find them seized with fear, 
inaplormg their nephew to procure them the necessary 
I^apers to enable them to repair to Italy, whither the 
days of the 5th and 6th of October had filled them 
with the desire to flee, while the civil constitution of 
the Clergy had transformed this desire mto a formal 
and immediate request Louis XVI had much trouble 
m obtainmg these papers Even so, he could not pro- 
cure them completely in order , but Mes* ’ 
in such a state of agitation that they were 

257 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

any longer They fled from BeHcvue m the mght 
of the 19th of February 1791, tRiHng with them none 
of the millions as the populace sang the day after their 
departure but scarcely the barest necessities 
Then began a painful and difficult odyssey across 
Europe Stopped on their arrival in the villages or 
towns where the Jacobm spint prevailed at Moret 
first, and then at Amay le-Duc, they were subjected 
to the most vexations measures and antiapated with 
dismay the moment when their escape from France 
might be prohibited- They were lampooned and 
ridiculed Their flight had provoked mtense feeling 
m Paris and they became the bntt of the newspapers 
which spared them neither sarcastic jibea nor insults 
The problem of their journey to Italy and the long and 
lively discussion to which the requested pennUsion to 
leave France gavl rise m the Assembly was ri-eeboed 
in the papers La Chrtjntqtu eU Pam (the organ of 
the constitutional party) announced Two princesses 
sedentary by reason of their rank and age as well as 
from choice suddenly find themselves scued with a 
mania to travel and gad about the world It 

ts odd, but quits poistbl^ They arc going so they say to 
kiss the Pope s toe U is funny but edt/yfftg 
Mesdames and Madame Adelaide cspcdallj want to 
enpy the rights of man that is naiural 

These fair travellers arc dragging eighty persons 
about with them in their suite very nice indeed 
but they are takmg twelve millions away with them 
that If exceedingly xerong 

Mesdames maintain that they ore at liberty to go 
where they think proper quite so 

On his side Gorsas the journalist, solemnly warns 
*58 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 


Mesdames in the Calmer des quatre-vi7tgts~trois 
Departe'tnents that all that they possess “ belongs to 
the nation, to us, Mesdames, absolutely everything, 
even, if I dare so express it, your chemises 
So, when Mesdames were stopped at Amay-le-Duc and 
their papers and luggage examined, with lightnmg 
rapidity the incident was seized on and lampooned. 
In fierce tones the terrible inquisitors of the Jacobin 
village ordered Mesdames, who were all of a tremble 
to • 

" Give us Gorsas’ chenuses , 

Give us the chemises ! ” 

Madame Adelaide, the first to be apostrophized, had 
not got Gorsas’ chemises. Then it was Madame 
Victoire’s turn to reply to the demand * 

" Give us Gorsas’ chemises , 

Give us the chemises ” 

Now, Madame Victoire had a slight lisp well-known to 
the Pansians and on the other hand Gorsas was not 
famed for the cleanlmess of his underhnen. Thus the 
lampoonist makes Madame Victoire reply to her fierce 
gaoler 

" Had Gorzaz any zemizes ^ 

Had he any zemizes ? ” 

However, the difi&culties were overcome and the 
Assembly ordered the fierce parish of Amay-le-Duc to 
let Mesdames continue their journey. They reached 
Savoy without further unpleasant interference, then 
Italy, On the bridge of the Franco-Savoy frontier the; 
had the curious experience of heanng people ■ 

“ 0, what ugly old women I ” on the Fr ch side • 
bridge, and of bemg acclaimed on 

259 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

At Rome their old friend Bemls who hnd come as far 
as Temi to meet them and the Pope received them as 
real Prmcesses amid the ringing of bells and the cheers 
of the populace It was almost royal hospitality that 
Berms offered in his palace to Madame Adelaide and 
Madame Victoire. 

Bnt Rome was only a halt on the fugitives jonraey 
From there they sought refuge at Caserta on the 
property of King Ferdinand of the two Sicihes their 
nephew through the mamage of their sister the 
Tnfanta. But he was not able to shelter them for long 
From Caserta they repaired to Brindisi and embarked 
on a Russian frigate which conveyed them to Corfu, 
then to Tneste which being mvahds they chose on 
account of its salubrious climate But on the voyage 
Madame Victoire suffered the most frightful pains 
She was a prey to the same malady which had carried 
off Madame Sophie and every jolt was torture She 
suffered so much that she succumbed eighteen dap 
after their arrival at Trieste at the age of sixty-six 
(June the 8th 1799) 

Madame Adelaide was now alone Exile had made 
her shy and misfortunes seemed to have turned her 
into something of a fatalist The last to survive of 
Louis XVs and Mane Lecriuska s numerous children 
she had the air of awaiting death with some impatience 
It was on the i8th of February 1800 eight months 
after Madame Victoire s death that the longed for 
visitant came for her at the age of sixtj -eight. 

Thus all Louis XVs daughters with the exception 
of one died without having founded a £amil> The 
six daughters who passed through history without 
playing any definite part in it did not bcba\*c as one 
360 



THE DAUGHTERS OF LOUIS XV 

could have wished, because their nebulous position 
prevented them from perceivmg what was their duty, 
Neglected m their education, with no one to give them 
advice- or counsel at an age when both were indis- 
pensable, they were clumsy and often wanting in tact 
and discernment. But all had genuine qualities 
which, properly directed and cultivated, would have 
made them better women than they were Then real 
misfortune and the gravest mjury which they suSered 
was in havmg Louis XV for a father 


263 



THE PRIVATE LIFE OF 
MARIE-ANTOINETTE, DAUPHINE 
AND QUEEN OF FRANCE 

Uaeie-Antoinbtte was Httle more than fourteen and 
a half years old when in 1770 she went to France to 
many the future Louis XVI She was a very wide- 
awake little princess but very ignorant Her mother 
the Empress Mana Theresa had had no time to attend 
either to her education or to that of her sisters and the 
little girls entrusted to the care of more or less con 
saentious governesses learnt only what tbej wanted 
to leanL The Empress however, made a point of 
examining the work of the Archduchesses once a 
month On one of these occasions she was agreeablj 
surprised at the graceful legible handwriting of the 
Archduchess ilarie-Antoinelte and delightedly con 
gratulated the young Princess But Marie Antoinette 
hanging her bead in shame confessed in a low voice 
that the beautifully written pige for which she had 
just been praised was not her work. All she had 
done was to go lightly over the letters written bj 
her governess The beautiful open letters the graceful 
capitals, the artistic fine strokes owed nothing to the 
hand of the Archdudbess 

So when Mane-Antolnettc became Dauphinc she 
hardl> knew how to write GlOck had been her music 
master but she had profited x-cry little bj his lessons 
sfia 



MARU: ANTOINRTTC 

2nd NmrmUrr 1755 I 61 I 1 Oflo’jrr 1793 Uaupiiinr lOtli Mny 1770 I 6 lh Mny IT?-} 
Qurrn of Princr I 6 lli Miy 177-1 I9lli Aut.u»t 1790 

Pitnt tu Cutili 





^''Rifantoinei7;e 


'^'r Irn; (onwirttd by (W 

0 / aotw 
Mtfl be 
tutn. iw„. 


»,,t_ »^ “woeii to tte art 

^ rt t«i 


If.*.. 1 . r ^ “Maistoncnfi 

■!?«« >Mn TOt to j «5 ij 

Uj nunia] righu 7^ ^ 

l^J=^\anrcl6epedJIlacaIdfa]«Co!I*dtIW* 
3 r i CiMtf d Artou, *ho ffaj pfeasore nud, itnsjoB- 

(b.i and fnducTKt to tie pofet oi openiy sei% »i 
t' Siirtmolbaig respected jadirndly the fwjie. 

Eierytne el Ihu pituMe Court to thsorted a 
totr^ and persoiul nraliies. Not ooe laopfst 
Ih'a tojabted idmself over the snffemip of the 
cOTrdiy and when the peopJe Ihoiijiit of tie Cmirl si iB 
t* wu to cnrse it Pacie bar sard "At Ifcnailtetfce 
CoBrt yawns os it dermrs mlioirf lie letsf pfcasoie 
0' enpjTMnl, twaily-ive milion owi," 

So the ytmg Danpime came to a Court thtci ™ 

juaktorrce.wberettoTOnomtogmdeierJoW- 

onslr, toofferbera 


oNop^LratmoKtesoftodab- 
,o.d>«berWher™te^_^^ 


,0 »<«"« a,L^MVertoond,wio™»^ 
dArsenteanandtheW^fa^ 

detnled to tie ft, 

d'Apffflfean was ^tesen* of * 

Us Jiatto Tberr^ 1^'=^ ot«* 

ArcMoohessafVersnlte^^^^^ 


MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


As soon 3s tlic Krciicli jMirnstcr, ClioisGiili the personal 
friend of the Empro'^^'* Marw There‘;.'i, had arranged 
for the marriage between liie Archduchc‘'S I^Ianc- 
Antoinette .ind tlic lieir presumptive to tlic French 
throne, Maria Theresa endeavoured to remedy the 
faults m her daughter’s education. She summoned 
the actors Sainville and Dufresne to b ranee to give 
her elocution lesson'^ and the Abbe Vermond was 
despatched from Versailles to Vienna to introduce the 
young Archduchess to French literature But ^laric- 
Antoinettc concentrated on nothing vhich she did not 
like She was disheartened by the least mental strain , 
novels, and the lightest for choice, were the only books 
m which she was at all interested. When she 
repaired to Versailles the students of the college of 
Soissons made her a speech in Latin ; the future 
Dauphinc responded in the same language, but the 
reply had been drawn up by the Abbd Vermond and the 
Pnneess did not understand one single word that she 
uttered. She would not take the trouble to listen to 
the translation and had been content to learn the sounds 
by heart. So Mane-Antoinette came to Versailles 
wthout that intellectual culture which would have 
helped her to react against the frivolity of the Court 
of Louis XV and Madame Dubarry. 

The Court of Versailles was at this period the most 
vicious and the most childish in Europe. A woman 
from the low ranks of society, with no morality and no 
ideals, dommated the mind of the old king and gave 
its tone to the Court The daughters of Louis XV, 
stingy and jealous old maids, ^ whose narrow religion 
withered the heart instead of widenmg its sympathies, 
* See chapter on The Daughters of Louts XV 

263 



MARIE-AKTOINETTE 

would seem to have justified the nicknames of GrmlU 
Chiffe and Loqu6 (Scrap, Rag and Ihid) with which 
they were tormented by their father The Dauphin 
who was as dull m mind as he was heavy m body 
thought of nothing beyond eating, shooting and 
building, until he devoted himself to the art of loci 
makmg Despite all her blandishments it took 
Mane-Antoinette a year to exate him to the point 
of kissing her Seven years were to pass before he 
exercised his mantal nghts The brothers of the 
Dauphin were the pedantic and false Comte de Provence 
and Comte d Artois who was pleasure-mad, irrespons- 
ible and mdiscrect to the point of openly setting at 
defiance everything respected and loved by the people 
Everyone at this pitiable Court was absorbed in 
intrigue and personal nvalnes Kot one amongst 
them troubled himself over the sufierings of the 
coimtiy and when the people thought oi the Court at all 
it was to curse it Pache has said ' At Versailles the 
Court yawns as it devours, without the least pleasure 
or enjoyment twenty-five million men ’ 

So the young Dauphine came to a Court which was 
sunk in vice where there was none to guide her judid 
ously to offer her a bracing and intelligent fnendslilp 
or to give her a true idea of her duties She had no-ono 
to advise her but her mothers Ambassador, Menrj 
d Argenteau and the Abbd Vermond who was entirely 
devoted to the Austrian Ambassador But llercj 
d Argenteau was first and foremost an Austrian He 
like Maria Theresa, realixed that the presence of the 
Archduchess at Versailles helped the Austrian cause 
In Europe. The Court of Vienna had married Marie 
Antoinette m France so that she might serve Austria In 
264 



MARIE-ANTOINILITE 


that country. The young Dauphine was to remain an 
Austnan. Mercy d'Argenteau guided iici witJi a 
devotion, a scrupulosity and a discretion, of wiiich, 
perhaps, there is no other example in the histoiy of 
diplomacy. And, as Marie-Antoinette seemed to be 
amenable, as she gamed an ascendancy over Louis XV, 
who called her " a charriimg little creature, fub of 
life ”, as she compelled the Dauphin to become inter- 
ested m her, Mercy d’Argenteku, who already .saw 
Austria rulmg France through the medium of Marie- 
Antom'ette, wrote on April 20th, 1773, in a glow of 
triumph, “ It is certain that one day Madame the 
Archduchess will govern this kingdom And be 
thought ; ” Austria will govern it through her." 

After this, is Marie-Antoinette to be held really respons- 
ible for having to some extent deserved the name of 
" the Austnan ”, with which she was taunted by the 
French people on the eve of the Revolution ? She 1)9/1 
followed all too faithfully, without perceiving their 
danger, the counsels of the one honest man who had 
sought to guide her. But before they became political, 
iIarie-Antoinette''s faults showed themselves in her 
private conduct. VTien this child, with no one to 
ad'.ise her, came to Versailles, she started by making 
fun of eveig'bodv ; first of all, of Z*Iadame de XoaiJle',, 
who had been annointed I-Iistress of her Household- 




MARIE-ANTOINETTE 

that Napoleon petulantly remarlad No man of sense, 
or of consequence could escape the banter of the j-oung 
courtiers whose natural propensity to ndicule was 
stimulated by the applause of a young and beautiful 
sovereign ’ 

She made fun also of the favourite Madame Dubarry 
whom she detested and justly so but whom the 
Empress Mana Theresa, expenenced in politics for- 
bade her to judge ** Yon are not to know what 
\ Dubarry is to the King But Mane Antomette was 
not satisfied with laughing at Dubany, she not only 
slandered her herself but set other tongues wagging too 
She loved listening to the Court gossip and several 
ladies were in her good graces because they had more 
slanderous tongues than the others 

The young Prmcess, greedy for pleasure sought 
amusement and distraction on every occasion in the 
beginning she surrounded herself with a crowd of little 
dogs, teaching them to bark when people said things 
which she did not like. She mdulged in horse-riding 
to excess In spite of the rcmonstninccs of Mana 
Theresa who feared her prospects of inaternitj might 
suffer by it She was extremely fond of donkcj races 
These races made Paris talk because the Dauphlne who 
had now gro\vn toll (oiled to displa> that proprietj 
which one could have wished She loved tumbling 
off her donkey nnd seeing the ladies-m waiting tumble 
off too Take care she said to a Iad> \\ho asked 
if she might join in the races * if j-ou \vant to be one 
of us you must be in a proper condition to tumble ’ 
These tumbles os one can well imagine were often 
accompanied bj grotesqnc mddents The organizer 
of these daring sports was Marie-Antoinette s oviTI 
a66 



M A R I K- ANTO I N ETTE 


brother-in-law, (lie younj; Comte (l'Artoi‘^, aged 
nineteen Hi'^ bad reputation alone made him a 
a congenial companion to the Daiiphme, who was 
accustomed to like in people only w hat amused her. 

The faitliful Mercy d'Argenteau, wiio observed with 
deep sorrow Maric-Antoinette's rhildi‘;h Ievit\ . her 
irrespon'^ibility, her fri\oh(\, her love of pleasure, of 
change and racket, her inability to conrentr.ite hei 
mind on any serious subject, or to do any useful work, 
resolved to take a big step to make her popular and to 
turn the current of her thoughts. Marie-Antoincttc 
had now been marriid mon^ than three years and she 
had not yet made her statt* tntry into the capital. The 
people wcie growing more and more dissatisfied with 
the estrangement K-tween Pans and the Court, which 
one might ha\t supposed to be at the antipodes to each 
other. The Austrian Ambassador rightly thoiiglit 
that if Maric-Antoinettc could bring the Court and the 
capital together the peopU would be infinitely grateful 
to her. That is why he persuaded the Dauphine to 
obtain the permission of Louis XV to make her state 
entr}' into Pans at the side of her husband Louis 
XV, delighted to please his charming danghter-in- 
law, readily gave his consent, and on June 8th, I773» 
the Dauphin and his wife entered their capital in state. 
They w'ere w'cleomed by the populace with wild enthusi- 
asm. The young Princess was infinitely gracious, 
beaming with smiles, and full^f life, and the people 
fell madly in love with her. 

Marie-Antomette was at that time in such favour 
that it needed the accumulation of man}'^ faults to rob 
her of her populanty. She was f* ■ "'’"n for receiving 
no-one but the Austrian Amt ^ng 

267 



MARffi-ANTOINETTE 

days of the King's illness and after his death which 
supervened m May 1774 for having paid heed to all 
the instructions which came from Vienna These 
mstructioiis even arranged for the Royal Family’s style 
of livmg The hunting-suppers which until then had 
been for men only were henceforth to mdude ladies 
Henceforth also the King and Queen were to occupy 
the same room ' 

But the Court was hardly out of mourning when 
Mane-Antomette once more became intoxicated with 
pleasure, 

Marie-Antomette was twenty when she became Queen 
and she was more than beautifal she was alluring 
Madame Vig^ le Bnm who painted her portrait in 
1779 said that she carried herself better than any 
woman in France and this at a period when every 
grande dame carried herself splendidly So great was 
the charm of her eaqiression and smile that one did 
not notice that her features were not very regular, that 
her forehead was too high and her imderlip too t hick , 
malclng the mouth impleasmg although it was small 
The oval of her face was too elongated but her beautl 
ful blue eyes were bright and full of mtelhgence , her 
aquilme nose was too sharp, but the whiteness and 
beauty of her complexion were unnvallcd 

The fact of bemg Queen mehnt nothing more to 
Marie-Antomette than greater liberty to gratify her 
whims and capnccs and further amusements She 
changed the of&dal manners of the Court For the 
strict etiquette of Louis XH'’ maintamed bj Loms XV, 
she substituted ease freedom of speech and manners 
and gay unconventional parties where almost oxry’thlng 
was tolerated excepting boredom Moric-Antoinettc 
268 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


regarded those liours as lost M'hicli were empty of 
amusement. But perhaps what slie enjoyed most was to 
be admired and to receive compliments Hergreat passion 
was to please She souglit and rehslied the slightest 
praise , and flatter}^ she could be led like a child. 
It gave her infinite pleasure also to feel that men were 
moved as she passed and she often bestowed on them 
looks which were rather more feminine than regal, for the 
sole pleasure of feeling that she stirred their emotions 

The longed-forbirthof thrcechildren, the first of whom 
was bom in 1778, made no dihfcrence at all to the 
Queen’s mode of life On the contrarj^ she added 
fresh pleasures to those wliich had at first amused her. 
She began to act with her brothcr-in-law and the young 
noblemen at Court. The first series of performances 
was from August ist to September 27th, 1780. On 
October 2gth, 1781, she was destined to give birth 
to a first Dauphin, whose death at an early age was a 
great gnef to her, and on I\Iarch 27th, 1785, was bom 
the child who was to be called Louis XVII 

]\Iarie-Antomette also indulged m wild sleigh-rides 
across Pans; she mshed about "en diable”^ with the 
Comte d’Artois, was present at all the races where he 
had entered a horse, and took immense pleasure m 
congratulating the winning jockeys, m junketing with 
the noblemen on the racecourse, and in laying high stakes 

She even went to the masked balls at the Opera 
House She had been taken there once by her husband 
durmg the carmval of 1773, when she was still only 
Dauphme, and she took a fancy to this very 
nsque amusement, which abounded m comproimsmg 

^ " Le diable” was the name given to a dangerous two-wheeled 
vehicle in which the occupant had to stand Itwasmuchpati* > ■ 
by the Comte d’ Artois 


269 



MARLE-ANTOrNETTE 


promisctrities and where tmdercoverof the mask there 
was no Iimrt to what might be said In order to get there 
Mane-Antoinette would steal away from Versailles with 
one of hermaids-of-honour dress in Pans at the house of 
a young noWeman of her acquaintance and often did not 
leave the ball until six o clock m the morning 
So it was that durmg the carnival of 1779 a month 
after the birth of her daughter she left Versailles one 
evening with the Pnncesse d H(fnin the most question 
able of all her maids-of-ioimnr to repair to one of the 
masked balls at the Opera. When they reached 
Pans the Queen and her companion donned their 
disgmse at the house of the Due dc Colgny, celebrated 
as much for his extravagance as for the ndicuJoos 
tightness of his trousers When they were dressed 
the Queen and her m3id-<»f>honoiir accepted one of the 
Duke 8 carriages to convi^ them to the Opera House 
but they had only gone a very short distance when the 
main Spring of the carnage broke What was to be 
done ? It was one o clock in the morning and the 
Queen of France with no other escort than a woman 
of questionable character was obliged to leave her 
coach and to face In a lonely street the risks incident to 
carnival night In order to lessen the dangers cl the 
situation the Pnncesse d*H^nm judged it best to seek 
shelter in a neighbouring boose. Here then we sec 
the Queen s maid-of honour knocking loudly and 
repeatedly on the nearest door The house was 
occupied by a peaceable silk merchant Startled and 
shocked by such a noise at his door at so late an hour, 
the good man grumblmg and suspidous cautlousl) 
opened a window on the first floor ' Open the door 
as quickly as possible cried the Pnnwsse d HAiin 
*70 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


" the safety of two noblewomen is at stake ” But 
the tradesman considered that noblewomen would not 
be running about the streets on a carmval mght and 
regarded those who were ^knocking on his door as no 
better than adventuresses So he closed the wmdow 
agam and decided to return to bed. 

His refusal mcreased the fears of the Queen and her 
lady-in-waitmg, and, exasperated by the difficulties 
of the situation, they redoubled their efforts to force 
the tradesman’s hospitality The knocker was 
wielded ceaselessly, appeals reiterated, nothmg was 
neglected to induce him to surrender He returned 
at last to the window still wearmg his nightcap, emblem 
of the peace he desired to preserve Conversation was 
resumed between the street and the first floor. But 
the s^idpkeeper remained obdurate until the Prmcesse 
d’H&in, who had come to an end of her arguments, 
finally disclosed the identity of his visitors At this 
revelation the tradesman rushed towards the door, 
which he threw wide open to admit his sovereign But 
a host of neighbouring wmdows were aheady filled with 
busybodies and gossips who on the morrow would be 
askmg if it were mdeed fitting that the Queen of France 
should be gaddmg about the streets of Paris at mght 
m a mask When the ladies had gained admittance 
to the silk-merchant’s house his whole family were 
assiduous m their attentions, and an hour later, Mane- 
Antomette, with her maid-of-honour, set out once 
more on the road to the Opera House in a hired cab, 
which the tradesman’s zeal had procured for her The 
story of her adventure had probably preceded her to 
the ball, for when she arrived she could see that in 
spite of her mask her entry attracted a great deal of 

271 , — 



MARIE-ANTOrNETTE 

flttentioii. A man disguised as a fishwoman even 
went so far as to cross-examine her m the coarsest 
possible way 

Next day the simple minded Lonis XYI roared with 
laughter when he heard of the escapade 

A little later m the same j^ear Mane-Antoinette had 
an attack of measles and for the mkft of precaution the 
King was removed from her chamber but the Queen s 
sick nurses were Besenval who had made love to her 
Coigny Gumes notorious for the scandals of his pnvate 
life when Ambassador m London scandals which led 
to his recall and by way of compensation procured 
for him the title of Duke and Esterhaiy Mercy 
d Argenteau interfered and insisted that these gentle- 
men should leave the Queen s room at ii o dock at 
mght until 6 o dock m the monimg Marle-Antolnette 
subimtted very unwillingly to this arrangement 
These agreeable companions made her forget her iDness 
with their amusing but very broad talk. She gaw 
them consideraUe licence even permitting them to 
hazard jokes in the worst possible taste at the King 5 
expense She herself in 1775 writing to a young 
Vieimese nobleman did not hesitate to allude to her 
husband as poor man 1 Poor man I she put 
poor man when writing of her husband to one of m> 
subjects exdaimed Marla Theresa in amazement 
in a letter to Mercy d Aigenteau, after having read her 
daughter's note to the Viennese nobleman 

Nevertheless it would be entirely wrong to suspect 
Mane-Antomette of conjugal unfaithfulness In 
thousands of brochures it has been stated that she 
decei\*ed Louis XVI At the beginning of her reign 
a scurrilous lampoon m verse entitled ' I^es Amours 
273 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


de Chariot et Tomette ” named the Comte d’Artois 
as the Queen's lover They were never an5d;hmg 
more than play-fellows, mdulging in frank speech, 
which the libertine d’Artois loved to enliven with the 
recital of his hcentious exploits Besenval, Gumes, 
Coigny, Esterhazy, the Due de Nemours and several 
others, whose names scandal has brought forward, 
have not the nght to boast even of as much intimacy as 
this. Mane-Antomette may have had a rather more 
lively affection for that amiable roue, the Due de 
Lauzun, who, brought up m the boudoir of Madame de 
Pompadour, united great charm with a total lack of 
morals But whatever de Lauzun’s gascon boast- 
fulness prompted him to wnte, he had no more justifica- 
tion than the others for vaunting a conquest which he 
never made 

Only one among the young men who visited the Court 
of Versailles made the Queen's heart beat He was 
the Comte de Fersen, a tall and handsome youth, well- 
made, with an anstocratic face, a reserved manner 
and grave demeanour He was the son of a Swedish 
statesman At twenty-four years of age he had been 
strongly recommended to the French Court by his 
sovereign,' Gustavus HI Mane-Antomette had met 
him on several occasions at the masked balls at the 
Opera House, where they conversed together for a long 
time , then Mane-Antomette showed him special 
marks of favour. The jealous talked , so the Comte de 
Fersen, in order not to compromise the Queen, deter- 
mmed to leave Versailles and France and to go to 
Amenca to fight m the cause of Amencan mdependence 
It was m vam that Marie-Antomette implored him 
not to leave her She was ready to make many 

273 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


sacrifices to keep him by her side But Fersens 
reqject equalled his love and after a week spent almost 
entirely at the Court of Versailles, dumig which the 
Queen could never look at him without her eyes fillmg 
with tears Fersen embarked for America whence he 
was not to return until June, 1783 When Madame 
de FitZ'James said to him on the eve of his departure 
You are going away after having made a conquest , 
Fersen sadly and chivalrously rephed ' Madame 
I have made no conquest orlshonldnotbegoingaway 
When de Fersen returned and the Queen saw him 
agam her feelings towards were unchanged He 
too was the same romantic lover and knight, read> to 
sacrifice all for her whom he loved Thus when 
compelled to leave France m 1788 to fight in Finland 
he hurried back to Versailles at the first rumours of 
trouble in 1789 to watch over the object of his affections 
during the storm He it was who arranged for the 
flight of the Royal pair paid for the coach which he 
had had built for the journey obtained the necessary 
money for the fugitives and disguised as a coachman 
drove the carriage which he hoped would bear them to 
safety The attempt failed by reason of the indiscre- 
tions of the T^ing and his family but Fersen blamed 
himself alone ho was tortured by the thought of the 
sufferings to which his loved one would be exposed 
and from this moment his whole life was dedicated either 
to the rescue of Mane Antoinette or to the defence of 
her memory * 


* Even to-dJiT miajr per*bt In tedng moc* 
and chiTalrow mendimp in th* tie* which edited SUrie-AaloiBen 
and Comte Axel de Feiaem Among other things tb« 
their Tlew on nn ocaurenc* which prece ded the pobllcnHM ” 
fine nnd most interesting work pnblUhed In i8?8 ^ 
nephew of Comte AxclTe Fer»d Biron R M d* KUokowJUdm 


^74 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


The Comic dc Fersen was not tlic onl}' one who found 
the wa}^ to jMaric- Antoinette's heart. Many female 
favourites also occupied a very large place in her 
affections It has even been said that it was for these 
favourites that her most ardent passion was reserved. 
They were ver}* numerous, but those who attained the 
highest place in the Queen's good graces were the fair 
and ethereal i\radamc dc Lamballe, who fainted away 
at the mere scent of a bunch of violets ; beautiful, dark 
i\Iadamc Jules dc Polignac, who was pleasantly frivol- 
ous and outwardly w ithout any pretensions, but whose 
harmless extenor concealed an insatiable greed on 
behalf of herself and her relations ; the captivating 
Madame dc Gudmenee, who, separated from her 
husband, lived openly vith the Due dc Coigny, the 
King's equerr}’, and lent her apartments for those 
endless faro parties, at which I^Ianc-Antomette lost 
enormous sums of money ; jMesdames de Chima3^ de 
Dillon, d'Henin and many others besides Marie- 
Antoinette showered money on her ladies. For 
Madame dc Lamballe she revived the position of 
jMistress of the Queen’s Household with a salary of 
one hundred and fifty thousand hvres ; m order that 


(Tie Comte de Fersen cl la Conr dc France, Firmin-Didot, ddtieiir) 
Instead of publishing in tins work all the papers of Comte Axel dc 
Fersen which were in his possession, Baron dc Klinkoivstrom, burnt 
Some of them and over others spilled drops of ink which rendered the 
papers illegible in places. 

This IS a true fact, which, through the medium of a devoted 
fnend. Mademoiselle Gnboval, has been vouched for to the author 
by a member of the Fersen family 
But It proves nothing either against the Queen or against Fersen. 
Some of Marie-Antoinctte’s letters would no doubt be blotted from 
motives of political discretion m order not to compromise names 
which had not previously been thrown in the mtl6e, or from a sense 
of dehcacy (the expression of certain feelings, even the purest, can 
ill stand the strong light of publicity) or by reason of family suscepti- 
bilities (a revered Queen would know what it was desirable to keep 
back from the public) or for a thousand analagous reasons. 

275 


IBs 




MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


the father of another favourite should be made a 
marshal she had seven new Marshals of France created 
simultaneously Madame de Polignac had only to 
express a wish to have it immediately granted The 
sums of money which the Pohgnac family cost France 
at that time are mconceivable and this when Paris was 
without bread 1 

The reign of Marie-Antomette may also be described 
as the golden age of hairdressers dressmakers and 
tailors She favoured the most extravagant stylo of 
hair-dressmg the Belle Ponle the Pnfl , the 

Qfeaco with its three bunches of feathers at the 
' back and its bunch of ribbons composed of eight 
bows in front for she hoped to male herself look 
taller by adorning her head with plumes Leonard 
the hairdresser was almost as important as a statesman 
m her eyes On March 5th 1779 an undesircd Incident 
occurred which in some degree symbollrcd and stressed 
the importance which the dressmakers and trinket 
sellers had assumed The King and Queen had driven 
m state to Pans Notwithstandmg his people s cheers 
Louis XVI who was always rather dull and slccp> after 
food dored by the side of his radiant Queen uho 
alert and smiling acknowledged the sjunpathctic 
welcome given to the Sovereigns While the King 
was still drowsing the Royal procession approached the 
balcony of Mademoiselle Berlin chief dressmaker to 
the Queen and highly esteemed by her In order to 
show her affection for the King and Queen Mademois 
elle Berlin had grouped all her cmplojces on her baicnn} 
so that they might chccrthclr Majesties as thev passed 
Touched b> this attention on the part of Mademoiselle 
Berlin Marie Antoinette wished to acknou ledge it b\ 
276 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


a special bow. But in order to do tins she turned 
somewhat sharply m her seat and the jolt awakened 
Louis On opening his eyes, the King observed 
the Queen smilmg at a particular spot, so, still only 
half awake, the Monarch who thought he had been 
wanting in courtesy by not bowing to the mdividual at 
whom the Queen continued to look, could think of no 
other means to make good his fault than to stand up 
at once m the carnage and make a low obeisance in the 
direction m which the Queen was gazmg. Tlius did 
the Kmg of France, all unwittingly, honour with a low 
and special bow the Queen’s chief dressmaker. The 
noblemen could do no less tlian tlie Kmg And 
so it came about that all the carriages m the Royal 
procession stopped one after the other beneath Made- 
moiselle Berlin’s balcony, while their occupants rose 
and bowed low to the Queen's dressmaker 
Of all her jewels, Mane-Antomette preferred her 
diamonds In the first year of his reign Louis XVI had 
bought diamonds for her to the value of three-hundred 
thousand francs, and she had bought, pnvately, a pair 
of diamond ear-rmgs at a cost of four hundred and 
sijrty thousand francs, which it took her four years to 
pay Some time later she bought diamond bracelets 
which cost her one hundred thousand crowns After 
this is it surprismg that a schemer like Madame Lamotte, 
who was as dating as she was mtelligent, should 
succeed m heapmg up riches and m compromismg the 
young Sovereign by the story which she was able to 
weave round the Queen’s passion for diamonds ^ 
Scarcely anyone doubted the Queen’s guilt when, m 
August, 1785, the famous lawsuit, called the " diamond 
necklace case ” was tried. The Cardmal de Rohan, 

277 



MARTE-ANTOINETTE 


the 3 rouiig dressmaker who had personated the Queen 
and even Caghostro were commiserated but Mane 
Antomette received hardly any sympathy m this 
dramatic and slanderous case, which damaged her 
reputation down to the day of her death 
{The number of Mane-Antomette’s enemies was also 
increased 1^ her thoughtlessness It is said that the 
day after the first perfonaance of Zirrsxrt ef Avar 
Marmontel and Gr^tiy were presented to her in the 
gallery at FontaineWeau through which she was 
passing on her way to mass The Queen paid all her 
compliments on the success of the new opera to Grdtry, 
telling him that during the night she had thought of the 
enchanting efiect of the tno behind the magic mirror 
then she purged her way without having addressed a 
single word to Marmontel, the author of the libretto 
Gr^try, delighted did not notice the omission and 
tfllfing Marmontel to his arms exclaimed Ah my 
fnend 1 that comes of writing good music 1 
' and poor words I ' was the Icy rejomder 

On another occasion Mane-Antolnette recei\Td 

Piedni and wishing to pay him the honour of singing to 

him, asked the great artist to accompany her on the 
harjisichord Thoughtlessly she chose on air from 
Alctzhs by Glflck, Picdni s nval m music-* 

Mane-Antoinette did not exert a good personal 
influence over the Government of Louis WI She 
misunderstood Turgot and apart from the Austrian 
onentation which she tned to give to French politics her 
influence m the choice of ministers was most unfortun 
ate As Lamartine saj’s in his Uisiotre det Gtrondins 

* ABeedote* related by the IMoee do U^oe In \ SU rtis Cr*' 
cw t61e«w tUdt Adoipkt JmtUn 
278 



MARIE-ANTOINETTE 


" she could neither foresee, nor understand, nor accept 
the Revolution , she merely provoked and feared it. 
The charmmg favourite of an ageing monarch, she could 
only enchant, mislead, and die. She enveloped her 
husband m her owm unpopularity and dragged him to 
his doom 

But this IS going outside the private life of Mane- 
Antomette Her meddlmg m politics belongs to 
history. Let us leave tliis Queen, so charmmg and yet so 
ill-fitted to reign m France, regrettmg tliat it should 
have needed so long a chain of woes, and so bitter a 
persecution by fate to change her from an enfant 
terrible into a herome. Let us also note that though 
hit by misfortune Mane-Antoinette rose to meet it 
From the day when, in the coach which brought her 
back from Varennes to Pans, her tears won Bamave over 
to her cause, to that other day when she appeared before 
those who had the audacity to pass sentence on her, 
Mane-Antoinette passed with ever greater digmty and 
nobility from virtue to virtue, from sacrifice to 
sacrifice, until the sublime moment when she attamed 
a martyr’s crown 


27 ' 




BIBLIOGRAPHY 

In addition to the works, already mentioned, throughout the 

volume 

I Works Dealing Generally with the whole Period, 
OR WITH the Majority of the Chapters 

Rouvroy (Due de Saint-Sunon) Memoires (Edition 
Ch6niel, 1872) 

Du Plessis (Due de Riehelieu) Memoires (Edition, 1829). 
VoYER DE Paulmy (Maiquis d'Argenson) Memoires 
(Edition 1898) 

Pieces historiques de Soulavie (\^olume II). 

VoYER Marc Pierre, Comte d'Argenson Correspondanee 
(Edition 1922) 

Memoires dii Due de Liiynes 
s Sainte-Beuve Portraits de Femmes 
Sainte-Beuve Portraits du XVIIP siecle 
Lacretelle. Histoire du XVIII^ siecle 
Memoires du Prince de Montbarry (V olume I) 

Memoires du Dufort de Cheverny, du Prince de Ligne du Due 
de Croy (ddilion Grouehy) 

JuLiEN La Comedie et la Cour 
Goncourt La Femme au XVIIF siicle 
Imbert de Saint-Amand Les Femmes de la Cour de 
Louis XV 

Jules Soury. Portraits de Femmes 
Capefigue Louis XV et le XVIIF siecle 
Toussaint Anecdotes curieuses de la Cour de France sous 
le regne de Louis XV 

Maugras Le Due de Lauzun et la Cour intime de Louis XV 
Dietrich Les Mattresses de Louis XV 
Lavisse. Histoire de France 
Goncourt Les Mattresses de ^ 

Prince de Ligne La Socieie 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

II Special Works Relattnc to the Various Chapters 

MARIE LECrtKSKA. 

Do Fresvk de Beaucourt Le Caractirc dc Louis W 
(sketch, published in the Rome da Ounhons hsionma 
volume III) 

DENoLHAc^erro)£/U£f«SMrIaCour«i«Frtfncf LouitW 
d Mont LrcTinijba 
TuiRiON Madame de Pne 

TROis SOOPEUSES (Three Ladies at Supper) 
Pnucesse Palatike (Charlotte-Elisabcth de Ba\ifcre) 
Mhnotra ittrdt de la CotirdeLouxt 
Hxdoxre tetrHe (Introduction de Jean Hervei) Poriraxt 
de MademoxuUe de CharaUtt 
Paul d Estr^e, Le Markhal de Rxcheltat 
Capefigue, Metdanottella de Nate d la Jeuneue de 
Louit \r 

LA DOCHESSE DE CUXTEAUROrPt. 

Goncourt IjxDuchmedeChdUaxm>uxeisnS(Ti(n 
Paul d E5Tk£e Le Marhhal de Riehehen 
UADaME CEOFFRIS 

P DE SfcGUR. Le royaume de la me Saxnie Honort 
Corraf>ondance xnhitfe du rot Stamslas ^upitie Poniaiovih 
d de Madame Geaffnn 
SaiKTE Beuve, Causenrf du Lundx 
Revue dcs Deux Mondea January 1917 and following 
numbers, 

ADRIEKVK lECOU^TlEUR, 

5Io'^^AL, 4rcAirej de la Ccmrdte Fran^Jise 

Saivt Rex 6 TAaL.\NDiEK- ^faunre de Saxe 

Comte Viittuum d Eckstald A/awnre Comie de Saxe 

MADSME DEPIXA\ 

Madame D’EPI^AY Lea Cemvenaiiimx d'Etmhe 
Madame d'Episay iulohicgrophte 
Satcte Beuve, Caiamrt du Lundt 
Pere\ et Maugras, La Jeuneue de Madame (TEtdnay 
let demt^es ennfes de Madame d Epinay 
J J Rousseau Mfmetres 
DccLOS Mhnnres sr^ets 

28a 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 


la comtesse de sabran. 

Nesta H Webster The Chevalier de Boufflers. 
Correspondance de la Comtesse de Sabtan ct du Chevaher de 
Bonfflers, 

Pierre de Croze Lc Chevaher de Boajjlcrs et la Comtesse 
de Sabran avant 1788 {Correspondant du 10 fevticr, 1894). 
Lucien Perey. La Jcunesse de Madame de Sabran 
Maugras. La Conr de Luncvtllc. 

LA MARQUISE DE POMPADOUR 

Georges de Roy (lieutenant des Chasses, called Sainte- 
Beuve 'La Bruy^sre ^ Cheval’) Tori) axis hisioriqucs dc 
Lotas XV et de Madame de Pompadota {i^aladc, 1804) 

Du Hausset (Madame) Memotres secrets dc la Cour de 
Lotas XV et de Lotas XVI 

Fleury (Maunce) Lotas XV tniimc et Ics pctiies Mattresses 
Marcelle Tinayre La vie amour euse de Madame de 
Pompadour 

Capefigue Madame de Pompadota 
Noleac Louts XV et Madame dc Pompadour, 
Sainte-Beuve. Memotres sur Madame de Pompadour 

MADEMOISELLE DE LESPINASSE 

Leitres de Mademoiselle de Lesptnasse 

Lettres tnedties de Mademoiselle de Lesptnasse d d’Alembot 
et d Condor cet 

De S^!GUR Julte de Lesptnasse 

Eliac Une aprls mtdi chez ' Julte de Lesptnasse 

Sainte-Beuve Canseries du Lnndt 

Correspondance compute de la Marquise du Deffand avee ses 
amts ' 

Sa^te-Aulaire Correspondance tnedtie de Madame du 
Deffand. 

UNE MaItRESSE de MIRABEAU SOPHIE DE MONNIER 

Lucas Montigny Mhnotres de Mtraheau 
L DE LoMfiNiE THEN Ch' DE LoM^NiE Les Mtrabeau 
Mirabeau Lettres onginales ecnies du donjon de Vincennes 
parttcuhdrement lettres d Sophie 
Louis Barthou Mtraheau 

283 


/ 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 


UESDAitES riLLES DE LOTJIS TV 
Do Roroni La Dauphtn fiUM Louts XV 
BAitnrfeLfarr Mssdames ds Franca 
Strtienski Mesdames da France FtUss de Lduts XV 
Flbury Lcs Drames de IHtsiotre Mcsdames de France 
pendant I hntgratum 

BoNHOiniE (Honorf) Louts XV ei ta famtUe 
Beauke {Catherine) A Royal QuarieUe 
Michelet de /antames stnguJtira d pintbUs 

(quoted only for their biblK^raphical interest) 

Sage (H.) Loutfc Eltsabdh de Bourbon 
Sage (H ) Dom PhtUppe de Bourbon Infant dts Espaptes 
d Louise Eltsabdh de France) 

Beauriez Une FtUe de France {Louise Eltsabdh ie 
Bourbon) 

AbbAPsoyart Vie de Madame Loutu 
Descostes Mane Louise de France au Carmel de Saint 
Dents 

Mbnotre\ hsionques des Mesdames AdMaSde d Vtdatrt it 
France 

COHTE DE Cbattellut Rdoiton iu voyage ie Mesdames 
iardes durot de Caserie d Tneste 
Comte oHfeECQUES Souventr d'un page 
MStnotres de la Comiesse de Botgne 
Lettre de Henri (Comte de Chambord)au Saint Pire (17 
Mars 1770) 

LA VIE PRIVAe de MARIE ANTOINETTE (THE PRIVATE LIFE 
OF MARIE ANTOINETTE) 

De Kunckowstrom Le Comte de Fersen d Is Ceur ie 
France 

Goncodkt Htsiotre de Mane-AnUnndU 
Nolhac. La Dauphins 

Hunolstein Corrcspondance tnMile de Marts Antetndie 
Maugras Le Due du Lausun d la Cour tnhme de Mane 
Aniotnelle 

Caupan (Madame) MimotressurlaviedeMarte Antoinette 
Mane Antoinette by the ColOeor LtovARO 


284